WEEKLY NEWSLETTER 24TH JANUARY 2020

Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.~Matthew 5:4

I met Jane on the day her daughter died in her arms. The call came from a nearby hospital where the life of Jane’s daughter, Carol, abruptly ended from a splenic hemorrhage after a fateful tumble over the bicycle handlebars while out riding with her father and brothers. Jane was not that hospital’s regular patient, but the emergency department team contacted me, the on-call family medicine resident at Loma Linda University Medical Center. This mother has been my patient ever since.

Throughout my career I have had many opportunities to walk with patients on their grief journey, but my walk with Jane has been the longest. From the first moments of shock and visceral pain, through the throbbing, sobbing days that followed, I offered my phone presence and some benzodiazepines for less tortured sleep. When we met in clinic during the aching, hollow weeks that followed, we confirmed our common faith and sealed this unique bond.

In the months and years that have followed, I have learned about a mother’s grief and how it fits into a life that must keep on living. Because of Jane, I have a deep respect for well-run grief support groups, meaningful family celebrations of life, and covenantal marriage relationships that can survive the worst pain, as well as respect for the steady presence of true friends and a faith community.

The years have passed, even beyond that surreal moment when Carol has now been gone longer than her short 12 years on this earth. This year my eldest son turns 12 years old. I take pause-and breathe a sigh.

Many faces and phases of this tragedy have played out, but the story is still not over. In this time I have witnessed strength and resiliency that must come from God as He meets us in our greatest weakness, and the kind of peace that only He can offer, the kind that surpasses all understanding.

-Michelle T. Opsahl, LLUSM class of 1996, is an assistant clinical professor in LLUSM department of family medicine.

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