Thanks for friends!
While in seminary I did a chaplain internship at Georgia Baptist Hospital in Atlanta and was assigned to the cancer ward. Part of my required reading was the 1969 epic On Death and Dying, written by Elisabeth Kübler-Ross, MD, [1926–2004]. Kübler-Ross was a Swiss-born psychiatrist, and co-founder of the world-wide hospice movement. It was in this seminal work that Kübler-Ross first described “The Five Stages of Grief:” — denial and isolation, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. She masterfully pulled back the curtains to show how imminent death affects the patient, the medical persons who care for the dying patient, and the patient’s family.
She also described the then usual treatment of dying patients in the nation’s hospitals. Dying patients were placed in the last room down the hall, furtherest away from the nurses’ station, and the attention given to a patient rapidly diminished. Doctors and nurses, she discovered, were afraid to face their own mortality and so they gave only token, most-basic care to dying patients.
I witnessed that first hand. The medical staff at that time was more than willing to turn the emotional and psychological issues of dying over to me, the young chaplain intern.
Now it’s my turn to face death. God’s grace and his comforting assurances make death a next-step-to-heaven exclamation point rather than a fearful question mark.
I have found, however, that even among Christian friends, there is a reluctance to spend time with someone who cannot speak! How do you have a conversation with someone wearing a T-shirt with “I’m speechless” printed across the front?! I fully understand the frustration!
Thanks for undaunted friends!
But there are many who are undaunted.
- One friend leaves work early every Tuesday to come and give me a massage and listen to Christian music together. He drops in frequently with his wife to visit with my wife, Ruth, and me.
- Another friend comes every week when he’s in town to take a two-mile jaunt with me.
- There’s the friend who comes immediately whenever a door lock or a chain saw needs repair or a tree limb needs to be cut up.
- My brother who lives nearby in the thriving metropolis of Yankeetown, drops everything he is doing whenever we need him. Ditto for our married children, their spouses, and grandchildren. Ditto for my sister and husband in Clermont.
- Another friend calls almost weekly from another part of the state and drops in frequently with his wife.
- Thanks to other friends and former students who call, make frequent encouraging comments to my blog, or use regular email.
This song inspired this blog post.
1. When you’re down and troubled, and need a helping hand
And nothing, nothing is going right,
Just close your eyes, think of me, and soon I will be there
To brighten up even your darkest night.
You just call out my name, and you know wherever I am,
I’ll come running, to see you again
Winter, spring, summer or fall, all you gotta do is call
And I’ll be there, yes I will
You’ve got a friend
2. If the sky above you should turn dark and full of clouds,
And that old north wind begins to blow,
Oh, keep your head together, and call my name out loud
And soon, I will be knocking at your door
Ain’t it good to know that you’ve got a friend?
When people can be so cold
They’ll hurt you, they’ll desert you
Oh, they’ll take your soul if you let them
Don’t you let them.