The last two days have been very difficult. I had four of my patients to die; 3 yesterday and 1 this morning. At this time of the year when we are wishing everyone a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year, how do you keep the holiday spirit as you tell families that their loved one has died? The patient I pronounced this morning I had become very close to her. As I drove to her house, I cried. As I expressed my condolences to her daughter, I cried. While we waited for the funeral home, we talked about the good times she had in the last year. Every week when I would visit her. I'd ask Ms. J what are going to do today. She would respond "I'm going to go fishing." Ms. J loved to go catfishing and her daughter took her every chance she could. One day I asked her, got the same response and her daughter stated "Not today mom it's raining." I looked at Ms. J and said "We need to talk to the man upstairs and get him to turn off the water." We had a great laugh. At my last visit Ms. J was looking forward to going fishing before winter set in . I told her daughter when I left this morning, she is now catching the biggest and best catfish around and enjoying every minute. I can see her sitting on the docks of heaven fishing with Jesus at her side in her fully healed, glorious body. As I left her home, I rejoiced as I listened to the Christmas music on the local Christian radio station. I only heard 2 words of one song "unspeakable joy". That is what I realized I had as I minister to my patients at this time of year that is to be merry. As I express my condolences to my families, I have in my heart "unspeakable joy". I pray that this joy shines through when I am with my patients and their families. An hour later, I was summoned to another patient's home. It sounded like she would take her last breath before I arrived or soon after. Thankfully it was just a little crisis. As I discussed different options and explained the disease process to my patient and her family, co-workers of hers arrived. She perked up with the biggest smile. She didn't even look like someone who could die at any moment. So that she could enjoy her company, I took my leave. She hugged me and wished me a Merry Christmas. The joy that filled my heart as I realized that even in a time of sadness wishing someone a Merry Christmas could be appropriate and appreciated.
As we celebrate the miracle of the Virgin Birth, in the midst of sadness, may you have a Merry Christmas. Know that Jesus Christ who came to earth that we may have eternal life, gives us "unspeakable joy" and a Merry Christmas, just as Ms. J is celebrating the best Christmas ever. My prayer is that if you do not know Jesus as your Lord and Savior please seek Him. Because with Him it is possible to "Have a Merry Christmas in times of sadness."