I’m sitting with my son Douglas in his hospital room in Sioux City, IA. It’s evening and we are being quiet together. I try to sit by his bed and just hold his hand. Since his accident six days ago, life has been surreal. Right now other family members are resting, and I have this time with Doug.
I have been answering the question, “How is Doug doing?” by saying that he is holding his own, very well. The “very well” part is because I think Doug does everything very well. With a traumatic brain injury, the question is hard to answer. There is more going on in this room every hour than I can keep track of.
We have many reasons to be very hopeful for Doug. I believe that God is going to use Doug in wonderful ways, as I have always believed. I am praying for a full recovery and his family is going to give him every opportunity to make that happen.
Thank you to those who have prayed for Douglas. I would love to have you continue to pray for him as we move through this weekend. He is my wonderful son!
This week I have learned some things about how we as small church pastors care for hospitalized people and the loved ones around them. We have been ministered to by a number of pastors and chaplains since we arrived here with Doug. Here are some things that I think are important
Do you care? I can easily tell who cares about a patient and/or family member and who does not. There is not a bullet list of clues, but it is communicated through eye contact, tone of voice, touch, posture, and attention. I will always want to take a moment, before entering a patient’s room, to pray, gather my thoughts, and think about how I can care for, comfort, and encourage the person I am visiting.
Are you dialed in to the patient, and do you treat him/her with love and respect? My son is unconscious. I love the people who come into the room, call him by name, and tell him what they are doing to help. I like when pastors/chaplains know Doug’s name, speak to him, and pray for him. There is a shepherding care that takes place when people speak to God for him, and to him for God. Doug is not just a patient, he is a person, and more importantly, he is my son.
Are you rushed in your visit? This is not a science, but an art. People know when you are in a hurry and trying to get out of their room. Wouldn’t it be great if they thought you had absolutely nothing else to do but love on them? Listen, make eye contact, be slow to speak, talk directly to people, and truly love them with the love of Jesus from within.
Know that sick, injured, or fearful people need encouragement, and that every word of hope, affirmation, and support will go a long way. When we are in the pit of despair, we will seize upon every possible morsel of optimism we can find. Provide many morsels of hope and encouragement.
Finally, know you are making a spiritual difference not only in their life, but in the lives of those in the room. Today Rev. Sharon came in, and she spoke with me and my son Joel. She asked us about Doug. Then, she turned her back on us and talked to, and prayed with, Douglas. She spoke to him, even though unconscious, as though he were looking right at her. Then, she lovingly prayed for him. When she was done I asked her to come into his room every day she was there to pray for him. I was in tears. It was truly a moment of spiritual ministry.
In this rotten, horrific week I am having, I am still looking for the things I can thank God for, and for which I can be grateful for in my heart. The care and concern of a church family, meals prepared in love, friends who come bearing our burdens and giving us hope, and a phenomenally loving family – for these I am humbled and grateful.
As you visit people in the hospital, take the time to prepare yourself. It is not “just another visit”. Hospital visitation should never be routine. It is the work of Jesus to those crushed in spirit; it is the work of the Spirit through you to provide hope; and it is the work of the small church Shepherd to care for the sheep.
10/24/2014 12:42:26 am
Thank you so much for continuing to share what you are learning in your journey even in this incredibly difficult valley. Such an encouragement and testimony of God's faithfulness. I have been praying for Doug and your entire family and will continue to do so.
10/24/2014 08:28:27 am
Thanks Kelly, so much for your prayers for Doug.
10/24/2014 01:02:19 am
Prayers my friend. Very good post. Thank you
10/24/2014 01:08:56 am
Though I do not know your family personally I am following all your posts and praying for Doug and all your family. In the days since the accident Doug has already taught me things.......thank you for your blog...so we'll said.
10/24/2014 08:30:56 am
Thanks Lisa. The number of people responding to Doug's needs just shows me how many people we can touch with our one little solitary life. Most of us have impacted more people than we know, and most of us likely underestimate the good we can do if we just live out LOVE.
10/24/2014 02:07:39 am
Thank you for this. It is often difficult to visit someone in the hospital, and your post is helpful. amazing how God is still using you to teach in spite of your horrific circumstances.
10/24/2014 08:35:27 am
Truth is best illustrated in real life experiences. I am only teaching what I am learning. My love for Doug just explodes in my chest, but then again, it always has. No difference. So as a pastor, parent, or paramedic, all of our roles are sacred. Thank you for praying for my son.
10/24/2014 03:20:18 am
I became aware of your trial through a post of a mutual friend. We don't know each other but know that you and Doug and your family are being lifted to the throne of grace.
Jeff, I cannot even imagine the anguish you and your family are experiencing. I know God always makes a way through the storms of life and want you to know that our family at Sonrise Church are praying for Douglas and for the Keady family. You are in our thoughts. Bob and Sally.
10/25/2014 07:30:13 am
Bob, thanks so much for praying for Doug! This is a new road for me, and it's good to know so many are loving him through prayer. He would be humbled.
10/24/2014 03:37:38 am
Deuteronomy 33:27The eternal God is your refuge,
10/24/2014 03:57:52 am
I do not know your son or you, but did know the other young people involved in the accident. My family and I have been praying for healing for all of them including your son. It was a tragedy to hit our small town and hearts are heavy with pain and sorrow for all that was involved. It is soothing to read your blogs to keep us in touch with your son and for us to continue to pray for him. It is very apparent that your son has some strong family and I'm sure he is aware of all your surroundings. We will continue to pray for continuous healing and strength for his family to be there for him. Thank you for the updates and my God continue to give you strength.
10/25/2014 07:33:56 am
Very kind words from you LaRita. I'm sorry for the loss in your community, and the pain of the families. I so appreciate your prayers for Douglas. The story of this incident will continue to be written for a long time I think.
10/24/2014 06:25:59 am
Our LCC 1:11* Servant Prayer Team is praying for Doug, and I have received comments from some of them about that fact. Again, I come praying for him and your family:
10/25/2014 07:37:02 am
Thank you so much Pat for your heartfelt prayers for Doug. He never changed from his "kid" days back in NY. He is just as wild and fun now, only larger! He is a wonderful young man and I so appreciate your prayers for him.
10/24/2014 07:47:49 am
Thank you Jeff for these words of wisdom. I have shared them with the Elders of our church as sometimes visitations can be difficult. I appreciate you so much. I especially appreciated you praying for me in the ER on Tuesday evening. It was so gracious and humbling for you to care for me when you have so much on your plate. Thank you, my friend.
10/25/2014 07:39:49 am
Thank you Denise. I have had kidney stones twice, so I am quite sympathetic on the matter! :-)
10/24/2014 09:08:58 am
That was beautiful and so true! Praying for your son and all of your family!
10/24/2014 10:00:01 am
Thank you for the updates and for your honesty through this trial. I am Spencer Groeneweg"s Aunt Faye. My heart goes out to you. I know what it is like to sit in a hospital room with your son and wonder if it really will be all right. Your heart knows that God will be faithful but your head keeps arguing with your heart. And you wonder what God's faithful answer will look like. I will continue to pray for your family for patience, peace, and nights of good rest as you support your son, Doug. I will pray for healing, patience in the baby steps, and the knowledge that he is loved, for Doug. Blessings on all of you.
10/25/2014 07:38:50 am
Words from experience Faye - thank you!
10/25/2014 02:30:13 pm
Our hearts go out to you. Praying for your family during this difficult time and full recovery for Doug. Love, The Harthoorns
Don De kok
10/26/2014 01:12:35 am
Good Morning Jeff
10/27/2014 03:49:04 pm
I love your thoughts and insight on this. I didn't know Doug but know the kids very well he was with. The night the accident happened I prayed so hard for Doug when we were trying to reach his family. Prayers were answered and you are by his side.
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