My Daddy's Death

  • Feb. 5, 2016
  • #8810

Losing a loved one can be difficult, but we must look to Jesus who can see us through our hard times.

My Daddy's Death

My father, John Eareckson, was a wonderful daddy to me.

Hi, I’m Joni Eareckson Tada, obviously named after my dad, John Eareckson, and I’m glad I was. You hear me talk about my father many times on this program – he was such an adventurer, always taking us camping and hiking. Dad was my hero! I remember when I was very little, he took me and my sisters to see a movie about Eskimos called “The Young Savages”. I was troubled by a scene in which an elderly Eskimo who was dying was left behind on an ice flow. We talked about it on the way home, and although I can’t remember my father’s words, secretly I knew that Daddy probably would have chosen the same path. 

I forgot about that movie until many decades later when my father became physically and mentally debilitated by a series of strokes. It was the long-feared nightmare that I always pushed from my mind. My 90-year-old father became a shadow of his former self, and it crushed my sisters and me to think that Daddy was probably going to die within a year or maybe months, or weeks. The family house in Maryland was sold. My mother moved her and Dad to Florida where he resided in a cheery little nursing home, and my Mom walked there every morning from my uncle’s house in order to care for my Daddy’s needs. Then she returned at night after she helped him into bed. My sisters and I often visited so we could give my mother breaks in the routine. 

After several months, Daddy began to quickly fail and was rushed to the hospital where an IV was inserted. When his body became bloated and his lungs began to fill with fluid, they took him off the IV, and daddy was sent back to the nursing home. Our family agonized and conferred with doctors. After much prayer and discussion, we made a decision not to prolong his dying with more treatments and medications. Because his digestive system was shutting down, it was clear that my father had entered the irrevocable process of dying. And knowing my father, he would not want the process prolonged. My sisters and my mother tenderly cared for Daddy’s needs around the clock, camping on couch pillows and watching his every move. Whenever we heard the rattle in Dad’s lungs, we couldn’t help but wonder: ‘Did we do all we could for Daddy? Have we made the right decisions?!’ In a day or two, the drama ended – Daddy passed away peacefully into heaven.

Dying is such a hard thing, isn’t it? And it’s strange how, when the parade of life finally runs out of steam, we feel cheated, don’t we, as though someone should have told us it was this short, this hard, this final. But death is supposed to be hard. Very hard. Yes, it’s difficult for the one who is dying, but it’s also painful for the family and friends. Some may try to soften the throes of death as a Christian’s birth pangs before entering heaven's bliss, but there’s nothing soft about death. It’s dying that is the painful part. And the facts of death often can be as harsh as facts of life.

And if you are helping to escort a dear friend or an elderly family member through this difficult end-of-life process, I like to give you some help. It’s very practical help in the form of a pamphlet I wrote called “When Is It Right to Die.” It’s filled with insights that I know will help answer tough questions. So, go to my radio page at joniandfriends.org and ask for your free gift “When Is It Right to Die.” And please let us know how we can be praying for you and your dying loved one at joniandfriends.org.

© Joni and Friends

 

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