Taking care of a sick loved one can be physically, mentally, and emotionally draining. It can bring you lower than you ever imagined you could go. But it can also teach you the most important lessons that you need in life.
I lost my father to cancer recently and here are three important lessons that I learned from his battle with the disease.
There is faith in not being healed
Countless prayers were offered, asking God to heal my father, but he was not healed. I mourned and grieved over my father’s death but I was not angry with God. I knew that my prayers and all the prayers that were said for my dad were heard, but it was not God’s will for him to be healed. Whenever I pleaded that God would heal him, my faith did not depend on the outcome I was hoping to receive. I did not have the faith that He would heal him, rather, I had faith that He could heal my father and that whatever the outcome, it would be His will and I was willing to accept it. Having this kind of faith terrified me at first because it meant that the Lord’s plan might include losing my father. But submitting my will to God and trusting that He has a purpose to everything allowed me to come closer to Him and brought me to a deeper understanding of the Plan of Salvation. I have come to appreciate and feel more gratitude for the blessings of the Atonement of Jesus Christ, and families that are sealed together for eternity.
Illness is not a punishment, but a part of life
At times, I asked why a good husband and father would be stricken with a chronic illness. He had done nothing terrible to deserve such terrible suffering. As I asked this question quietly in my mind, I was reminded that being mortal with a body of flesh and bones means that everyone is subject to illness and the pains of this world. I realized that there will always be some kind of trial or hardship in someone’s life, not because God wants to punish us, but because it is part of our mortal existence. It just so happened that my father’s trial was in the form of a chronic illness. Having this knowledge and understanding helped me to feel peace and comfort when my father was battling cancer. It also helped me to rely heavily on God’s abundant mercy to help us bear the burden easier.
“There is always something left to love”
This is a passage from a play called “A raisin in the sun.” I had to learn this lesson in the hardest way possible. My dad’s body was frail and bedridden. He needed someone to assist him with everything, 24 hours a day. Many times, he became frustrated with himself, and lashed out with angry remarks. He was at the lowest point of his life and it was the most difficult time for my family. It was an emotional roller coaster ride. With all the mixed emotions, someone might wonder if there is anything left to love in the midst of my father’s condition. The answer is a resounding “YES”. If someone were to ask me when I loved my father the most, I would say, “when the world was telling me that there was little left to love, but I still chose to love him with all my heart.” My love for my father is what kept my patience from running thin, my body sometimes staying awake for over 24 hours to care for him, and my voice soft-spoken. It kept me physically, mentally and emotionally strong. During these moments of difficulty, I learned that loving someone during the lowest point of his/her life is when we truly learn how to love the most.
These are lessons that people can learn without going through what I had to go through. But understanding each one in depth will help people bear the burdens of this life with ease and help them cherish the people they love more in sickness and in health.