I was sitting in church when the phone vibrated. I did not answer it then but waited until there was an appropriate time to get up and excuse myself from the Service to listen to the message. I knew what it was. My Sister Tish’s Husband, Bill had just died. He was struggling with Diabetes and Alzheimer’s disease, living in a residential facility that could provide appropriate care.
Tish has not had an easy time of it. Early on she was diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis. Medications along with some surgical interventions have allowed her to live with relatively good mobility most of her life. She tried to take care of Bill at home, but his size and the dementia simply would not allow it. Recently, Tish has had additional medical issues resulting in hospitalizations and time spent in Rehab units. Gratefully, she has a wonderful cadre of children and grandchildren (and great-grandchildren) who have been helping with the challenges.
I will make a quick trip up to Northern Illinois and back during the coming week. It is always a good thing to get together with my siblings and their families, but better done under different circumstances than the death of someone in the family. I hope that my own time of grieving has provided sharper tools to listen more effectively and be helpful as Tish begins this new time in her life.
This afternoon I spent some time with a fledgling Widowed Persons’ group at the church from which I retired as Pastor almost three years ago now. It is always helpful to have a safe place to talk about the struggles and victories in the grief journey we are on. I continue to marvel at how different each of are in dealing with our grief. There are also many commonalities that we share.
One reason for the timing of my presence is that I have offered to use a presentation of the slides from my trip as a mechanism for increasing (I hope) the exposure of the group to the congregation. Since my trip to New Zealand and Australia was a very intentional mechanism for proceeding on my journey toward healing after Mary Ann’s death, it seemed to me to be a relatively good fit with the goals of the group. Hopefully, the slides will also be of interest to the general population – at least those with whom I share some history.
This visit with the family will be the first time I have been with my siblings as a group since the Memorial Service I led for Mary Ann in Northern Illinois last summer. All of this is happening very close to the first anniversary of her death. As we mourn Bill’s death and seek to support Tish in her grieving, I suspect there will be some other layers to the grieving.