If you’ve ever lost a loved one from cancer or a chronic illness, you know how hard it is to see someone you love suffer, and as time gone by, you’re left struggling with what to do with those sad memories. How do you remember your loved ones in a way that doesn’t bring a lump to your throat or make your eyes well up with tears?
[Hear this post narrated by Dr. Mache with his original musical played by Ben Schwendener]
A friend of mine shared a powerful story with me about this very situation from when he was a young man, and I want to share it with you because it is comforting.
My Friend was in the Catholic Church that his family attended, off in a corner, sobbing in a chair, when a young priest quietly approached him.
“Why are you so sad,” he asked softly. Seeing the intensity of his sadness.
My friend collected himself to the best of his ability and looked up with tears running down his cheeks.
“My father is only 54 years old and he is dying of cancer. I know he won’t be with us much longer. He is such a wonderful man and he is suffering so much. And they keep giving him treatments that are causing him to waste away and have to deal with so much pain. It’s like watching someone endure a crucifixion.”
A moment of silence followed, as the priest gathered his thoughts.
“It is hard to watch our loved ones suffer. But in a short while he will pass to Heaven where he will be free of pain and suffering. And he will rest in peace in a better place.”
“But my last moments with him have filled my mind with his terrible suffering.”
The priest again paused for a moment and he said, “I want you to take a moment and think of the times you were with your father and you laughed the hardest. Think of those wonderful times. And as you think of them, I’d like to ask you to take the three best times of all of those times and bring them to mind. And when you think of your father, remember those three times. Fill your heart and mind with those three joyful memories.”
My friend took a slow, deep breath and pondered what the priest had asked of him, and after a moment, the young priest quietly walked away.
The priest had asked the name of the young man’s father and on his own visited his father in the hospital and administered last rights. Shortly after, my friend’s father passed away.
At the funeral, when feelings ran high and were most intense, my friend thought about the good times he had with his father, and the three times they were together, that they laughed the hardest. And his heart and mind were uplifted.