I had thought periodically over the last few years how it would feel when one of my parents would leave this earth and pass into eternity. Would I be able to handle it emotionally? How would it look? Could I be there for my husband and children and surviving parent in the midst of my own grief?
All I can say is God, in His great love, gave me a peace that allowed me to travel the remaining days we had with my father-in-law. It was unexplainable and yet I can still feel His overwhelming presence today when I reflect back on that moment.
My father-in-law had fallen in October 2020 and for the past two years I was privileged and honored to be one of his caregivers, allowing him to stay in his home (where he was most comfortable) and assist my mother-in-law and others when needed. Even though he was severely limited in movement and his eyesight and hearing had declined considerably, I believed he’d be around for many more years.
He was taken to the hospital October 31st in stable condition, and that was the beginning of the last three weeks of his life, unbeknownst to any of his family. The following Monday, we received a call from the hospital in the early morning hours with grim news, and I distinctly remember crying out to God after the phone call, asking Him to take care of my father-in-law but not really know how to pray for that answer.
God, in His loving kindness, filled me with His peace. I knew even as I was receiving it that it wasn’t a peace that all would be okay, that my father-in-law would live, or necessarily that my father-in-law was dying and would soon be with God. It was a peace that God was going to be with me and it, somehow, whatever it was, would be okay.
That peace stayed with me through the many tears shed as we discussed hospice and how long the doctors thought he would live (1 to 3 weeks turned into a matter of days). It lasted through his coming back home on Saturday and then his peaceful transition to eternity in heaven three short days later, through his funeral honoring the man I have loved for more than half a century.
I was able to grieve, and am still grieving, to be honest, with the covering of God’s peace. Not peace for a specific answer to my heartfelt prayer, but peace that He would walk with us through every detail.
Cheri Swalwell is a Christ follower who thoroughly enjoyed her calling to be a wife, mother, writer, podcaster, and speaker, in that order. Cheri loves to encourage people through her fiction series and many nonfiction books, including devotionals, Bible studies, and compilation books.
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Tracy Crump knows from experience the burdens caregivers shoulder after caring for both her parents and her 100-year-old mother-in-law. A former ICU nurse, Tracy dispenses hope in her award-winning book, Health, Healing, and Wholeness: Devotions of Hope in the Midst of Illness Twenty-two of her stories have appeared in Chicken Soup for the Soul books, and she has published hundreds of devotions, articles, and short stories in diverse publications such as Guideposts books, Focus on the Family, Woman’s World, and Ideals.
Loretta Eidson says
I am thankful for God’s peace through loss. In the midst of losing my husband five weeks ago this morning, I grieve, and yet, I have peace knowing He’s in God’s hands. And I am grateful for the time I spent with him through the caregiving process. Thank you for sharing, Cheri.
Tracy Crump says
I’m so sorry about your father-in-law, Cheri. Philippians 4:6-7 is one of my favorite passages, too. God’s peace really does surpass all understanding.