We stared in disbelief as the doctor spoke. After just one week of severe headaches, a CAT scan revealed that my presumably healthy husband, Tom, had a malignant brain tumor with a prognosis of only three months to five years of life left.
While I knew that Christ has the power to heal, I also knew the situation might not turn out the way I wanted. However, I felt God's peace as He reassured me that He knew me even before Tom did, and that He would continue to take care of my family and me. Tom battled the cancer, but after only 10 months of surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy he was healed in heaven.
Some people wonder how I have dealt with losing my best friend and partner of 21 years.
Amazingly, it is possible to feel sad and experience the joy of the Lord at the same time.
Obviously, I will always miss Tom, but these actions have helped me face this loss:
- Pray. This is definitely a time to communicate with God.
- Read and recall encouraging passages from God's Word.
- Cry. Sometimes nothing makes you feel better than a good cry!
- Accept help. This can be very humbling, but it's necessary.
- Maintain routines. I returned to work as soon as possible and continued other daily routines. This reassured my sons, then 10 and 12, that with God's help I would still be able to take care of them.
- Focus on others. I surrounded myself with children who needed me (I was a first grade teacher), and I prayed that God would help me find an area of ministry at church to get involved in.
- Stay connected. When possible we meet with Tom's extended family and my own. Friends and the church provide support, too.
- Stay active. When friends give gift certificates to restaurants and other places, I am reminded to take my sons out to do things we have always enjoyed doing as a family.
- Treasure memories. After sorting through Tom's belongings, I placed sentimental items in a special chest where I can touch and see things that remind me of him. Other belongings were sent to family, friends, or charity.
- Listen to Christian music. The song lyrics help me focus on God's love.
- Take a walk or a drive in the car. This can be a relaxing time to think and pray.
- Remember. It's great to reflect on the times we shared together, so the boys and I write in a special book to help us remember details about their dad.
- Be thankful. I am grateful for the time I spent with Tom, and I concentrate on the blessings God is still providing rather than on the loss. I still have many, many things to be glad for.
Tam Lytle Rouse is the Early Childhood Pastor at College Church of the Nazarene in Olathe, Kansas.