Last week, I again buckled under the erratic pendulum of grief as my health took a dive. I have struggled with numerous, chronic, auto-immune issues for years; however, since my beloved husband’s death they have significantly escalated and new ones have emerged. Have you dealt with this?

For 24 years, my husband was my infallible shield, my compass, my advocator at doctors’ appointments, and the balm that soothed my pain. He instilled in me the strength to persevere and to view my situation in a constructive manner out of the realm of suffering.

As I was told to go to emergency last Sunday, deep, emotional lesions plowed at my heart. I pleaded with my doctor’s nurse explaining that I just could not go to the hospital.  A multitude of reasons swarmed in my mind. One, I had not been to emergency since my husband’s passing which transpired at that hospital. I had been to the hospital’s surgery center for my youngest daughter’s procedures last September (which I previously wrote about in my HFW blog.) It was a harrowing experience to walk through those doors, but at the same time, a little cathartic to return. Nevertheless, my mind was preoccupied with my daughter’s complicated health situation as that was my mission. This time, it was a whole different scenario.

As I left my youngest with her caretaker to go to emergency, I realized that she had put on a cd copy of the chronological playlist (that I wrote about last week in my blog,) which my husband had put on iTunes for me, not knowing it was his last day at home.  I was in shock and awe as the cd, a legacy of our endless love, was tucked away hidden in my bedroom dresser. She did not know that it was there or understand the value that it possessed.  I felt tears stinging my eyes as I walked out the door with the songs serenading me. Almost as if David’s relentless love was infusing and propelling me forward.

My tears continued to fall as I entered the ER and the nurse wheeled me to my room. Much to my horrifying dismay, the room was the same one that my husband was in the first day that he became sick, went into kidney failure for no apparent reason and as a result, we found out that he had cancer. I wanted my husband. I wanted to run. I wanted to scream. I wanted life to rewind.

Then, the emergency doctor came in and I realized he was the same physician who had taken care of my husband on that initial day. Although, he did not know that my husband had died. So, as you can imagine, a flood, no really, an avalanche of tears burst forth. As the nurses were hooking me up to IV’s and running various tests, an X-ray technician walked in. We recognized each other. By this point, I could not even form a coherent thought. He looked at me, deep and steadily into my eyes and so profoundly said, “Lisa, you need to take care of yourself…” So simple, something I already knew, yet in the midst of the craziness of my life, and without my husband by my side, I had forgotten.

As pain has greeted me each day over the years, I have praised God. The pain meant I was alive and I could feel. In contrast, since my husband’s demise, I have been so overwhelmed with life. Having a child with autism that requires 24-hour care, dealing with both of my daughters’ grief, my grief, and furthermore, living with chronic pain has zapped my energy and changed my well-being.

Hearing the X-rays technician’s words solidified to me that I needed to once again turn everything over to Christ. In addition, as a wake-up call, pay homage to myself. I saw such a correlation between physical pain and grief as they both demand a nurturing, pro-active, comprehensive approach.

As I am implementing plans, I wrote this prayer. It has become a constant echo to me:  I humbly kneel before you Lord, you are my Savior, no pain- physical or sorrow can separate me from you. Please help me to face and manage my pain without my husband. Assist me in engaging my whole being to devise goals to promote healing. I will step into the ark of your love and allow you to recharge my mind, replenish my spirit and nourish my body. Amen

If health issues and grief resides in your life, please know that you are not alone. May your spirit be soothed and your pain be wiped away. As always, you are welcome to share and comment.


Lisa Dempsey Bargewell

My blog topic for next Wednesday: Bittersweet Tears