Damocles Sword

26 Feb

Remember the emotional build-up before important exams?

Spare a thought for spouses of cancer sufferers. 

In an earlier blog I mentioned I am grateful for the time I have to set things in order and create memories before my demise, whether that be sooner or later than predicted. 

I confess though that there are times I think if I died from a good swift heart attack it would be kinder and cleaner for Bronwen. Like a surgeon’s scalpel, the separation would involve a quick clean break. The grief would be traumatic but immediate. With a terminal cancer verdict there is a gradual tearing that takes place: a thousand deaths to die before the final one. (It is nice to consider total healing, and be encouraged to pray for one, the reality is that the success rate for cancers once secondaries are in the liver is zero. It’s just a question of extending the time.)

It is tough watching Bronwen having to handle the waiting period. Of course we are enjoying every moment we can, but there is always the Damocles sword hanging over the festivities: the inevitable realisation that one day she will be visiting places, eating and doing things alone. Part of the problem is that right now I do not appear to be sick, I have very little pain and have almost as much bounce and energy as I’ve always had. The thing is, we both know it will not always be like this.

The anticipation of a future without a loved one is hard on the emotions. What do you say to the person who will be left behind? Platitudes are empty. Expressing sympathy for either spouse’s situation can stir up sadness as much as not expressing sympathy can.

How should the terminally ill patient deal with it? There is a feeling of helplessness when I see the tears for there is nothing I can do to hasten my demise or my recovery. There are times I just have to let her cry. Any counsel seems inappropriate and telling her we must focus on each day without looking ahead is easier said, for both of us, than done. All the patient can do for the loved one who will be left behind is to pray and know that “the eternal God is our refuge and underneath are the everlasting arms”. 

Please do not get the idea that Bronwen’s life is one of continual moping and misery. Like any grief, before or after loss, tearful moments can happen without warning and without any logical reason behind the timing. Most of the time we are doing well and making the most of every day and experience. 

Whenever you come across people watching loved ones under a death sentence, ask God for wisdom to know what to say. It seems best to me to just talk about today and God’s blessing on the present for that’s where He promises His grace and strength.

I am not good at this blogging business. I like to keep my musings to myself. I am not used to letting people into the recesses of my soul where I turn things over. Please be patient as I discuss such personal and confusing issues that I am working through. If it reflects what other people have thought, and have felt guilty or silly for thinking it, then we’re in the same club. If you’ve not been there, then don’t jump all over me.


Posted by on 26 February, 2009 in Devotional, Family


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