The Possible in an Impossible Situation

We often can’t control an outcome, but we can still play an important role.

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Posted in , Sep 26, 2017

Comforting a loved one in the hospital

I ran into a neighbor whose husband, it turns out, is in the hospital with a rare mosquito-borne virus that has moved to his brain. He has been in the ICU for three weeks. “I feel so helpless!” my friend cried.

“Of course you do!” I replied. Then gently but firmly I added, “But you are not helpless. You may not be able to heal him, but there is one thing you can do that the best doctor in the world cannot. You can be with him and hold his hand as he suffers, and that is not a small thing. That is not a small thing at all!”

She absorbed that, and smiled for a moment. Then a cloud passed over her face again. “But I also have to take care of our grandson!” she fretted, “And I feel so bad leaving my husband!”

“It is not disrespectful of your husband’s pain to take care of someone he loves,” I counseled. “That isn’t actually a conflicting priority.”

She rested in that for a moment, then frowned. “I’m so tired! But I worry about what if something happens while I’m not there.”

“Of course you’re exhausted! And still: you can’t take care of your husband and your grandson if you don’t take care of yourself. It's not that either you tend to them or you tend to yourself–it’s a both/and thing You have to eat reasonably well and drink enough fluids, walk around to burn off stress, and sleep. You can’t afford to get sick, too. It’s not selfish to tend to your own needs.” 

I gave her a hug, and sent up a prayer, and made sure we exchanged phone numbers. She’s up against a lot. I can’t change that. But I can check in on her, take her for a walk in the park, see if I can help with her grandson. That’s not a lot. But it’s not a little, either. Nothing God puts in our path ever is.

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