Heartbreak and Joy

Heartbreak and joy are the two sides of loving.
I woke up this morning heartbroken over my husband’s suffering. The last week has been much worse for him physically and emotionally. There is some hope that a procedure he has scheduled will give him a respite from the worst of his physical symptoms right now. But his symptoms may indicate that the end is nearer than we had hoped.
Intellectual denial and emotional denial are two separate stages of grieving. In the first you cling to the belief that medical treatment will relieve the worst of a condition. In the second you recognize intellectually that suffering and loss are inevitable, but do not let that knowledge set off an emotional response. Once you respond emotionally, there are times of deep sorrow and heartbreak. But also recognizing that while God may not take away this suffering, God is in it with you. And in the midst of heart break there are moments of joy.
I have several small daily devotional books I read most mornings. But with the stress now, my memory is getting even worse and I find I can’t keep the helpful thoughts in mind. So, this morning I decided to just randomly chose one book and repeat that teaching over and over to keep it in my heart and mind all day. This morning I chose “The Upper Room.”
Today’s writing was by a woman from Nigeria about her husband dying though she had prayed to God to save him. At the end she takes comfort from 2 Cor. 12:9:
“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”
I don’t believe my choice of what to read today was a coincidence. God is with us in this.
This weekend I drove an hour away to pick up a grandchild that we have not been able to spend much time with since the first of the year. She gets carsick and was pretty miserable during the trip. She had also been exploring the woods all day and it had set her allergies off. I was afraid that I had chosen a bad time to bring her to visit.                                                                                                                                                   Her parents are divorcing and she has become a very solemn and quiet child. My husband has been heartbroken that she never smiles anymore and I have missed the long conversations we used to have. She and I were sharing a bed and for the first time in a long time, she was very talkative. It was a lovely blessing and a sign that she is recovering from her world being shaken. But after sleeping a couple of hours her allergies became so severe, she was having trouble breathing. She hadn’t brought her medicines, but fortunately I found some Benadryl for children and it gave her relief and allowed her to sleep. The next day she and my husband renewed their long competition at cards. And after trouncing him thoroughly, she rewarded him with one of her brilliant smiles. His smile matched hers.
When you love deeply, you are vulnerable to heart break, but that love also brings great joy in seemingly small events. And when you have reached the end of your strength there is God.

About Eileen

Mother of five, grandmother of nine, great-grandmother of five. 1955 -1959 Rice University in Houston, TX. Taught primary grades; Was Associate Post Director of Religious Education at Ft. Campbell, KY; Consultant on the Myers/Briggs Type Indicator, Was married for 60 years to an Architect in Middle Tennessee.

Posted on August 22, 2016, in Death, faith, fear, Gifts of Age, grandchildren, hope, Love, Paradox, Prayer, spirituality, Suffering and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 6 Comments.

  1. “When you love deeply, you are vulnerable to heart break, but that love also brings great joy in seemingly small events.” This is one of life’s lessons I’m trying to learn now, and even when I’m not a proper student yet, I know it to be undeniable true. Reading this and coming to your granddaughter’s smile was something I can’t quite describe properly. It’s pathos, if one can take out the sadness from that word and replace it with joy, which I’m sure there’s a better expression for, but I don’t know it yet.

    I pray your husband’s procedure yields the expected result, and that God’s grace continue to be sufficient for you.


    • *…know it to be undeniably true.


    • Thank you. It is so consoling to be understood. Yesterday my husband chose to stop taking the medicine that might slow the progression because it was making him feel so horrible. I had a bit of a bad night, but “then comes the morning, yesterday’s sorrow behind.” Thank you so much for the prayers. I know from experience that God’s grace is sufficient, as long as I keep open to it and don’t rebel. Her grace comes often through this connection with others around the globe. What an amazing time to be alive. What a gift!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Eileen, I pray that your husband’s health issues and your granddaughters emotional issues are of a temporary nature and that God will grant them (and you) relief and comfort during this time.


    • Thank you, Jake (?) My husband’s illness is incurable and progressive, but at 80 he has had a very full and interesting life.
      But it is a lung disease and a difficult way to die, so prayers are greatly appreciated that grace will carry us both through.
      There have been many graced times this year through all of our challenges. It has really made a difference that we have seen
      and felt God’s presence and grace.

      Liked by 1 person

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