Terminally ‘Ill’ [v160]

JUNE 2012

Terminally ‘Ill’

Knowing how to offer comfort and support to a loved one who has a terminal illness can be challenging. What can you say or do? How might your relationship change? Is there a typical emotional process that a person who has terminal illness experiences? How can you help your loved one cope with their impeding death? How will you deal with your own grief?

Well, I have ‘personal’ experience dealing with all of these and other questions since, as I mentioned last month, my dad has been ‘placed into’ Hospice in his home, and I am his “primary caregiver.” This is definitely ‘unfamiliar territory’ for me—since I was young and ‘protected’ from my Grandparents’ passings, and the unexpected ‘suddenness’ of my mom’s death.

At times I have felt kind of like I was on a new roller coaster ride—not knowing what to expect next. I’ve been told—and now have experienced—that sometimes it is not so much what you say or do, but just being present with another that can provide a sense of reassurance and comfort. Author Jack Kornfield said that, “The things that matter most in our lives are not fantastic or grand. they are the moments when we touch one another, when we are there in the most attentive or caring way.” This has been my ‘credo’ for the past few months that I have lived with my dad.

Dr. Ira Byock, a leader and educator in promoting quality care at the end of life, developed a ‘framework’ that outlines some of the issues someone may be contemplating as they approach death. Although the journey towards death may not be easy, and each person’s dying experience is unique to them, it provided me with some insights:

– Sense of completion with worldly affairs
– Sense of completion in relationships with community
– Sense of meaning about one’s individual life
– Experience love of self
– Experience love of others
– Sense of completion in relationships with family and friends
– Acceptance of the finality of life—of one’s existence as an individual
– Sense of a new self (personhood) beyond personal loss
– Sense of meaning about life in general
– Surrender to the transcendent, to the unknown—“letting go”

Author Elisabeth Kubler-Ross, in her book, “Death and Dying,” said this another way, identifying five stages the terminally ill person will experience:

1. Denial: “Not me.”
2. Anger: “Why me?”
3. Bargaining: “Yes, me, but….
4. Depression: “Oh, me.”
5. Acceptance: “Yes, me!”

These stages may not follow in order, they can ‘overlap’, and not every person will ‘reach’ acceptance.

So, after a few months now, I think my dad has pretty much dealt with most of these issues—he’s just really frustrated that he is confined to a hospital bed and can’t build golf clubs and play one more round! (He estimated that over his lifetime he has hit over a million golf balls, and played over 500 different courses!). [He has played a couple different golf ‘games’ on his tablet, and still is selling clubs on eBay!].

Thankfully, one thing that has made my interactions with my dad so pleasurable is that his mind is still really ‘sharp’—and being a news ‘junkie’, we have discussed and debated almost every subject imaginable (primarily his frustration with the ‘direction’ our country is going).

We have talked about the many things he’s done over his 80 years—growing up in Detroit; over 40 years of work in the auto industry; and his personal development ‘journey’ (having not had the chance to attend college to get that ‘jump start’ on life)—but primarily he has been reminiscing about the ones that have meant the most to him: my mom, my brother and sister, close friends and family, and myself.

Since the doctors have said that my dad can have anything he wants to eat, another very special ‘thing’ I am taking away from this experience is access to my father’s phenomenal cooking ability (he trained as a chef in high school, and was a head chef at the “Recess Club”, the exclusive ‘cafeteria’ for only GM executives back in the 50’s). I have been learning ‘secrets’ that I don’t think Emeril or Rachel know! [I am putting on a bit of weight since his taste buds are ‘calling’ for corned beef, liver sausage, “Applewood” bacon, potato salad, Belgian waffles, Hershey’s chocolate, kettle-cooked potato chips, triple chocolate creme cake, Klondike bars, Vernors, and “MGD” beer!].

I have come to realize that having this much time with a dying parent is not the ‘norm’ this days—with our many ‘responsibilities’—and this is a ‘gift’ of inestimable value that I will cherish forever!

I’m not saying that it’s been all “peaches and cream”—I have been sometimes very frustrated with my dad, and I have become ‘exhausted’ at times. Although, after I consider ‘switching places’, my compassionate ‘side’ returns, and I become a much better ‘listener’, and willing to be a ‘servant’ to someone that was that to me many, many times in my life! [I am also very appreciative to a few of my and my dad’s friends helping when/where they can, the wonderful people from Beaumont Hospice, and Gwen from “Home Instead” three partial days a week to allow me to run some errands and enable me to continue to run my business].

Since I’ve had a lot of time with my dad, and have been able to ‘grieve’ over the past few months, I think I have been able to ‘come to grips’ with him dying—though, I’m told, the feeling of loss often comes in ‘waves’ with emotions sometimes becoming overwhelming, making even simple tasks difficult. Hopefully, I will be prepared for this as my brother, sister and I go thru the end-of-life ‘formalities’ like the funeral and ‘disposal’ of his earthly material ‘accumulations’.

All that being said, the one thing I am VERY ‘COMFORTABLE’ about is that my dad has ‘prepared’ himself for eternity—being a believer in Jesus—and that means I WILL ‘SEE’ my dad again!

In a manner of speaking, we all are ‘TERMINALLY ILL’—when it comes to our ‘souls’. The Bible tells us that, “just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all men, because all sinned” [Romans 5:12]. That essentially means, in our current ‘condition’ that WE ALL are going to hell!

The Bible is very clear about this—“it is appointed to man once to die and after that comes judgment” [Hebrews 9:27]. So, every one of us will ‘face up’ to God to answer for our lives, and I’m thinking that every one of us will hang our heads in shame as we realize that we have to be CONDEMNED for the way we have lived. But, even as our condemnation is being announced, Jesus will ‘step forward’ to present incontrovertible evidence that the ‘sentence’ of a believer has been fully carried out when He died in their place on the cross.

So, according to Jesus, it is ONLY by a ‘belief’ in Him that can take us ‘through’ death, and is the only hope we have for eternal life! But, even before one even gets to Heaven, God does promise that He will ‘bless’ those on earth with a belief in His Son.

“The LORD will keep you from all harm—he will watch over your life; the LORD will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore” [Psalm 121:7-8]. So, even if one is terminally ill, God makes it a bit ‘easier’ to go through it: “Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him” [James 1:12].

This has even been alluded to in ‘secular’ studies, which have shown that terminally ill cancer patients who receive spiritual support from their care team are, on average, found to be in a better state of being near death than those who don’t receive support.

Dr. Tracy Balboni of Dana-Farber, a senior author of one of the studies commented, “Our findings suggest that spiritual care from the medical system has important ramifications for patients at the end of life, including helping them transition to comfort-focused care and improving their well-being near death.”

Even though I have tried to prepare emotionally for my dad’s passing, it is still going to be really tough losing ‘my best friend’. One thing I will ‘hold onto’ during that time is in the Psalms (prayers of ‘lament’—expressions of complaint and pleas for help from God). It says, “Weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning” [Psalm 30:5].

I will also take comfort since I know that my dad will be ‘absent from his earthly body and present with the Lord’—within a “blink of the eye” after her passes.

In addition to that, when my dad does ‘arrive’ in Heaven, God promises to “wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away” [Revelation 21:4]. The thing is, I will be ‘jealous’ of his new ‘situation’, but will be comforted in that we will be able to play golf together again (on some probably really fantastic courses!).

Though you may not be ‘physically’ sick like my terminally ill dad is, you may want to consider what the Bible warns us about ‘illness’—that ALL of our souls are ‘TERMINALLY ILL’, and we are destined for an eternity separated from God—a ‘place’ of darkness, torment, weeping, gnashing of teeth, and unquenchable fire.

Just to be clear, God is all loving and doesn’t ‘send’ you to hell—you do that yourself—by not being sinless—which, of course, no one can do!

But, God has offered a sort of ‘detour’—that you can freely accept if you want—just ‘believe’ that His Son, Jesus, is your ‘way’ (“I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but through Me” [John 14:6]), and you’ll be on your ‘way’…to Heaven!

[Excerpts from: Dr. Ira Byock; Paul W. Powell]

[P.S.: If you would like to investigate further about what the Bible has to say about “life’s most important decision,” visit the following link:


National Family Caregivers Association:

Family Caregiver Alliance:

Hospice Foundation of America:

“A Caregivers Guide to the Dying Process”:


LIFE’S DEEP THOUGHTS (v160) for JUNE 2012 If you have a ‘neat’ story or some thoughts about an issue or current event that you would like me to try to respond to, I would be glad to give it a try…so, send them to me at: mbesh@comcast.net

A Christian woman who was always bright, cheerful and optimistic although she was confined to her room because of illness. She lived in an attic apartment on the fifth floor of an old, rundown building. A friend decided to visit her on day and brought along another women—a person of great wealth. Since there was no elevator, the two women began the long climb upward. When they reached the second floor, the well-to-do woman commented, “What a dark and filthy place!” Her friend replied, “It’s better higher up.”

When they arrived at the third landing, the remark was made, “Things look even worse here.” Again the reply, “It’s better higher up.” The two women finally reached the attic level, and they found the bedridden saint of God. A smile on her face radiated the joy that filled her heart. Although the room was clean and flowers were on the window sill, the wealthy visitor could not get over the stark surrounding in which this woman lived. She blurted it out, “It must be very difficult for you to be here like this!” Without a moments hesitation the shut-in responded, “It’s better higher up.” She was not looking at temporal things. With the eyes of faith fixed on the eternal, she found the secret of true satisfaction and contentment that brings joy in the morning.

[D.L. Moody]

When I come to the end of the road
And the sun has set for me,
I want no rights in the gloom-filled room,
Why cry for a soul set free.

Miss me a little but not too long,
And not with your head bowed low.
Remember the love that we once shared,
Miss me – but let me go.

For this is a journey we all must take
And each must go alone.
It’s all a part of the Master’s plan,
A step on the road to home.

When you are lonely and sick at heart
Go to the friends you know
And bury your sorrow in doing good deeds
Miss me – but let me go

[Edgar A. Guest]

Basic instructions before leaving Earth…
For God so much loved the world,
That he gave His one and only son.
That whoever believeth in Him
Shall not die but live on.


Living on…
Through the son
Peace almighty
Living on,
Let your heart go
To the one.
Yes the road narrow.
Yes the road is tough.
But whoever remaineth in Him
Shall not die, but lift up.


Basic instructions before leaving Earth

[Burlap To Cashmere]


O soul are you weary and troubled?
No light in the darkness you see?
There’s light for a look at the Saviour,
And life more abundant and free:


Turn you eyes upon Jesus,
Look full in His wonderful face;
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim
In the light of His glory and grace.

Through death into life everlasting
He passed, and we follow Him there;
Over us sin no more hath dominion
For more than conqu’rors we are!


His word shall not fail you He promised;
Believe Him and all will be well.
Then go to a world that is dying,
His perfect salvation to tell!

[Alan Jackson]


There’s a way Jesus showed
All the sinners must go
And He called it the narrow way to Heaven
If to get there’s your goal
With the pure heart and soul
In His Word you can get what you came for
He described it right there in Matthew 7
There’s been signs all along
But you want to be sure
‘Cause the road sometimes swerves as you’re reading
In the free Bible book
There in John 3:16
Come find how all of our faults are forgiven

True words to ponder (x 2)

There’s a freeway of death
And it hooks to the left
And the steering and driving is easy
It is not quite as it seems
Smell that smoke, feel the heat
Hear the voice of the Lord who stands knocking

Oooh, takes you under
Oooh, really takes you under

And it’s His Word that’s true
If we all follow through
Than the Bible will lead us to Jesus
And the true way will dawn
On those who’ve read John
Chapter 14 verse 6 and thereafter
Does anybody remember Jesus?

Oh-ooh (x 6)

If there’s a possible dead-end road
Don’t be a lost man
It’s best to think before you take it
Yes, there are two paths you can go by
For there’s a wrong one
But there’s still time to change the road you’re on

Can I take you up there?

Your head it’s somewhere and it won’t go
The place you wanna go
If Christ has callen, you avoid Him
The way to Heaven’s very narrow
And as you know
It’s very wide on the way to Hell


Where will you wind up down the road?
A shadowland or street of gold?
There is a way that we all know
He shines bright light on words that show
How every man still turns to dust
But if you let Him in your heart
The Truth will come to you at last
And it’ll warn us where to go, yeah
And He is God He ought to know

And He called it the narrow way to Heaven

[ApologetiX – “Jesus Christ Morningstar” album ]


Precious memories, unseen angels,
Sent from somewhere to my soul;
How they linger, ever near me,
And the sacred past unfold.
Precious memories, how they linger,
How they ever flood my soul,
In the stillness of the midnight,
Precious, sacred scenes unfold.

[Stamps Baxter]

Don’t grieve for me, for now I’m free.
I’m following the path God laid for me.
I took His hand when I heard His call,
I turned my back and left it all.
I could not stay another day
To laugh, to love, to work, or play.
Tasks left undone must stay that way,
I found the peace at the close of the day.

If my parting has left a void.
Then fill it with remembered joy.
A friendship shared, a laugh, a kiss.
Ah, yes, these things I too will miss,
Be not burdened with times of sorrow,
I wish you the sunshine of tomorrow.
My life’s been full, I’ve savored much,
Good friends, good times, a loved one’s touch.
Perhaps my time seemed all to brief,
Don’t lengthen it now with undue grief.
Life up your heart and share with me,
God wanted me now, He set me free.

[Author unknown]

“But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ” [Philippians 3:20].
“Blessed is the one who reads the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear it and take to heart what is written in it, because the time is near” [Revelation 1:3].
“And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”
He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Then he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” [Revelation 21:3-5]
A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted;” [Ecclesiastes 3:2].
“Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of his saints” [Psalm 116:15].
“Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved” [Romans 10:13].
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life” [John 3:16].
“Jesus answered him, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God’” [John 3:3].
“And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life” [Matthew 25:46].


“In this life we cannot do great things. We can only do small things with great love.”

[Mother Theresa]

Hope you enjoyed some of these insights—share them with your friends and colleagues—so we can have a larger ‘pool’ to receive from, and more to share with! Also, remember to include your name as the “source,” if some of this wisdom is of your doing—I would like to give credit where credit is due!

“Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope. For we believe that Jesus died and rose again, and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him. According to the Lord’s word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever”
[1 Thessalonians 4:13-17].


Disclaimer: All the above jokes & inspirations are obtained from various sources and copyright are used when known. Other than our name and headers, we do not own the copyright to any of the materials sent to this list. We just want to spread the ministry of God’s love and cheerfulness throughout the world.

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