Why I hated Silent Night

desert scene, reminds me of Silent Night

Silent Night was my favorite carol when I was young. I could sing the first verse in French and German as well as in English.

So what changed my opinion?

One year the police knocked on the door in the early hours of Christmas Eve.

Yes, it was the news parents most dread hearing. A child was dead. A teenager actually.

Why the connection to ‘Silent Night?’

I don’t know if the TV, radio and shops played that carol more than usual, but it seemed to be played everywhere, and my husband remarked, ‘yes, it is a silent night for our son.’

After that every year, when the first carols were played in the supermarkets, or on TV, it was a reminder that an anniversary we would rather not have was approaching.

Even yet, Silent Night is a carol that will have me reach for a mute button, or if in a shop… walk the other way.

Silent Night announces the approach of Christmas

Christmas is a sad time for many people.

Regardless of whether or not you celebrate it, Christmas is one of those fixed times when the focus is on the season.

However, for anyone who has suffered the loss of someone dear to them it is a reminder of the missing person in their lives.

teenager in cap, meme

Another December death

In a little less than two weeks will be the anniversary of the death of my husband. His death was no accident, it was the result of a long battle with Pulmonary Fibrosis. Although he lost the battle, he lived longer than the usual prognosis for that condition. In fact, most people did not know he was terminally ill, and he touched many lives, encouraging them.

When we were told the end was fast approaching it was a shock. However, I didn’t want people sending me cards saying how much they loved him. Instead, I asked people to send him messages. I had them bound in a book and called it ‘Messages of Love.’ And they were, because he was well-loved.

No, December is not my favourite month, and I still dislike ‘Silent Night’ – in fact I do not like this time of year at all. It’s a month filled with lies, teaching our children to distrust us, and in a way showing them it is okay to lie.

I will see those two special people from my life again, and I miss them every month, not only December. But December is the time of the anniversaries of their deaths.

Susan

The Oddest Things Can and Do, Bring Comfort

featured for crucifixion blog, breathless

Whether or not you are a Christian, you have probably heard of crucifixion.

At this time of year, many Christians are thinking of the crucifixion of Jesus Christ, while many others think of Easter eggs and bunny rabbits. I will not go into the origin of the latter two here. Instead, I want to share with you how reading the details of what crucifixion was like helped me when my husband was dying over four years ago.

I will explain.

When my husband was told he was in end-stage pulmonary fibroses, it was neither a surprise, nor was it a pleasant diagnosis. This disease is always fatal. The ‘not a surprise’ was because he had been struggling to breathe for many years, while the hospital consultant at the time did not tell us the disease had a name. The ‘not a pleasant diagnosis’ was until then, with a new consultant did we know there was an ‘end-stage.’

High doze humidified oxygen

It was hard to see my husband struggle for each breath, even when he was in hospital receiving 25+ litres per minute oxygen. Then reason I put the + there is because sometimes it needed to go much higher.

The respiratory consultant explained that, in effect, his lungs were smothering him.

A trial at home, with a pair of linked oxygen concentrators, was unsuccessful and he ended up in a hospice, where he died three weeks later.

oxygen concentrators at home

The connection with the crucifixion.

Let me first assure you that my husband was not crucified, nor did I think what he went through was the same as Christ suffered.

No, the connection was when I read an article that described what happened in a crucifixion.

Quoting from the article –

“Once the victim was fastened to the cross, all his weight was supported by three nails, which would cause pain to shoot throughout the body. The victim’s arms were stretched out in such a way as to cause cramping and paralysis in the chest muscles, making it impossible to breathe unless some of the weight was borne by the feet. In order to take a breath, the victim had to push up with his feet. In addition to enduring excruciating pain caused by the nail in his feet, the victim’s raw back would rub against the rough upright beam of the cross.

After taking a breath and in order to relieve some of the pain in his feet, the victim would begin to slump down again.”

There is a lot more, but it is not ‘easy’ reading. You can find the full article here…
https://www.gotquestions.org/crucifixion.html

I did not pray for my husband to be healed. I prayed for God to help him. He had endured years of the nightmare of this condition. (He was a great ‘study’ for the respiratory registrars, but never a ‘name’ for the condition given.)

When I read that article – yes, it was emotional – but finally I knew how to pray for my husband.

Crucifixion of Jesus, the Christ

In that costly death of Jesus Christ, one of the many agonies He went through was not being able to breath. Until that time I had never thought of the crucifixion in this way. But it showed me that Christ knew what my husband was going through, He had been through it. This gave me comfort and helped me pray.

I have blogged before about Pulmonary Fibrosis. There is no cure, but there is a lot more support now than there was then.

I also put together a spiral-bound book on Geoff’s Last Journeyings, it was for family and close friends. Actually, I don’t have a copy.

after death from Pulmonary Fibrosis

Recently, I attended the bi-monthly club I belong to, and, because of the time of year, talked about the immense price Christ paid for us.

One other lady had lost her husband to breathing problems, and we talked about the comfort it was to know Christ knew what our husbands had gone through.

The oddest things can, and do, bring comfort.

PS If you want to read more about Pulmonary Fibrosis here is a link…
https://www.medicinenet.com/pulmonary_fibrosis/article.htm#what_is_idiopathic_pulmonary_fibrosis
I see that with current treatments life-expectancy after diagnosis has increased. It is now 3 – 5 years. When my husband was dying it was 2 – 3 years, although he was blessed with longer. (And so was I in having that extra time with him.)

God bless 🙂

PPS
This is the last, honestly. Just wanted to mention that if you notice the header section looking odd – that’s because it is.

After a terminal error I had to ask the web-host to reinstall the last backup made by them. This backup was out of date.

Currently I am working in the ‘back-end’ changing things… some of those changes are filtering through and look strange. All will be revealed when everything is connected up.

Susan

Life as a Carer

It is lonely being a Carer

Anyone who is chronically ill needs a carer, or carers.

Last week I shared an item that I reacted to… that of a man, who was refused a flight booked by a hospital for a lung transport.

The news article (Adelaide Advertiser, South Australia) which prompted the blog was about a man with Pulmonary Fibrosis who had come up as a match for a lung transplant and been refused a seat on the flight the hospital doing the transplant had booked. I will not go into the details of that post, although I do need to make an observation.

One… there might not have been oxygen available on that flight for the man. This seems strange since the flight was booked by the hospital who would have done the transplant had the man been able to arrive there in time.

However, it also stirred up my thinking about the Carer… the person or people who care for the person with a chronic illness.

Unless a person who has a chronic illness lives alone and has no visitors, that person has at least one Carer.

Life as a Carer…

Life as a Carer often involves being a ‘parental’ figure. Often the person being cared for does not have an accurate view of his or her condition. This is a hard part of the carer’s job. Being the one who assesses what is needed for every hospital appointment, how to travel there safely and what medications might be missed/needed during the time away from home.

But carers often have the unenviable role of ‘nurse’, and – there’s more…

Carers often have to learn…

Carer has to learn

About the disease, its treatment, and management

About the medications prescribed including what they are for, any special instructions and potential side effects

Sometimes these put the Carer into the role of ‘antagonist’ to the person they are trying to support, often the person they love.

The carer needs…

  • Skills to help manage the fatigue, pain, frustration, and isolation that people with chronic disease often get – as well as their own.
  • To be able to communicate effectively with health professionals by answering questions accurately, asking your own questions and making sure you understand the information provided to you. (Talk about the information needed with the person you are caring for, if possible, and write the questions down and take them with you.)

One of my huge frustrations, and it was my late husband’s also…  was the specialist/doctor wanted him to answer questions. However, he did not understand the terms they used, and having been a nurse, I did. But, at least to begin with they did not want to hear my observations on his condition.

This had a counterpoint (opposing viewpoint) – sometimes my observations and his – clashed.

I remember attending a workshop for carers… At the beginning we were given a list of all the roles a Carer performed. It was a long list.

Something else a Carer needs –

… Understanding – or at least acceptance.

If you know someone who is a Carer – try to ‘cut them some slack’ – one of the first things to happen is they become ‘unreliable.’

  • They cannot make arrangements to have friends come to visit, or go to visit them. Many times they will have to cancel any arrangements. So, either the friends drop them, or they withdraw rather than face the embarrassment of having to cancel… again.
    • You will have to understand. (Or give up on the person.) It would be kinder to expect nothing and accept that it is a black or white spectrum. There are no shades of gray in this kind of life.

If you decide to care for the Carer… and the person.

  • Be understanding.
  • Accept that arrangements might change without notice, and do not take offense if they do.
  • Be a person they can trust with their feelings.

Being a Carer for a loved one is a very difficult ‘role’, so you need to accept that it is a way of life – their way of life. Lives which revolve around medical appointments, tests, medication times, and sometimes hospital admissions. These are the ‘outings’ for the Carer and person being cared for.

Being a Carer – or a person needing a carer is a very lonely place to be. Ask any Carer and they will tell you how difficult it is to hide their feelings and struggles from the person they are caring for. Ask anyone needing care and, depending on their insight about their Carer, they will tell you how much it hurts them to see the person caring for them struggling to cope with their care.

Whether the person is a Carer of an adult, a child, or someone in between, caring for someone with Alzheimer’s disease, or any form of dementia – in spite of differences in the type of care, they face the same loneliness. Sometimes the Carer never ‘gets’ their friends back. Without a supportive family or network, isolation sets in and becomes a way of life.

On the outside, isolated, although near people. It is a lonely place to be.

Loneliness of a Carer, in a crowd

Just thinking, and sharing.

Susan