I’m learning a lot this semester, and it’s only February! It’s going well, but it’s really busy. Most of my classes this time are practice-focused. One of them is a mentored ministry class. My placement is Southwest Christian Hospice in Union City, GA.
Yesterday, I got to spend two lovely hours with an older lady, who graciously agreed to let me interview her about her experience with hospice. She lost her husband about a year ago, and he received hospice care for about 6 months before he died.
My freshman year of college, my best friend and I would go to church on Sunday morning, then walk from school to a nearby nursing home to visit some of the residents receiving hospice care. Ever since, I’ve had a desire to work with the dying and their caregivers. Sometimes, when things get really busy or school gets really hard, I wonder “why am I doing this?”, “where this is all going?”, “what if I made a mistake?”
But, yesterday, I was reminded that this is no mistake.
She was pleasantly conversational, and she’s hilarious. She reminded me a lot of, well, me. She referred to the hospice staff that took care of her husband as “angels”, and recounted her experiences with her wonderful nurse, and social worker, and the chaplain. She gave me lots of good practical advice on what worked for her, and the names of several books on grief. She ranked them for me, based on how helpful they were to her in each stage of grief; so that when I need to recommend books, I know what’s best for early grievers, widows whose husbands handled the finances, and so on.
The most memorable part of our time together, for me, was her candid and delightfully poetic recounting of her grief, from the time she first lost her husband, to now, a year later. She told me that one thing they don’t tell you about loss is how immediately final it is. She’d spent three years praying for her husband (he was sick for a long time, and gradually deteriorated). One day, she was out walking, after he died, and she started praying. She prayed for him and had a devastating realization that he didn’t need her prayers anymore.
“Grief is like a tsunami” she said. “It hits you like a wave all at once and leaves all this debris that you’re left to work through, layer by layer.”
She continued on, to talk about those layers and weaved in stories of God’s provision. God provided a friend when she needed one the most, a group of ladies to share holidays with, financial security.
She’s done a lot with her experience, and is really good at telling her story. She is currently taking classes with Stephen Ministries, so that she can help someone else through a similar loss, or other life concern.
I’m very thankful to have had a break from busyness to sit with, learn from, and be inspired by a remarkable lady.
I’ve typed my notes from the interview and placed them in my “helpful info for future ministry” file, and am increasingly convinced that I’m right where I need to be.