The first time my husband’s patient died
We were engaged, about to be married in a couple of months. Every phone call since the day he proposed happily included wedding planning details, plans for our future home, vacations we wanted to take and tons of giggling as if were two hopelessly in love teenagers. I was in the middle of deciding on our center piece decoration when my phone rang. Simultaneously scrolling through Pinterest, I answered my phone, expecting to hear his typical light hearted voice saying ” I miss you.” However, this time it was not the case. This time I felt uneasy. This time his voice was barley audible.
The conversation we were about to have would be my first sobering awakening to the realities of being married to a medical professional.
” I just killed my first patient.” My husband’s voice cracked.
My fingers, that were just scrolling through a beautiful assortment of vintage lanterns froze immediately.
” You.. what?..” Jaw half dropping, I wasn’t sure if I heard correctly. “Kill” is a very strong word. Tons of thoughts and questions ran through my mind, but I knew I needed to give my him room to explain. So I slowly prompted, ” What do you mean by kill?”
” Well I didn’t literally kill my patient, I just.. couldn’t save her. At first her vitals seemed okay, but then everything just went south really fast.” “Perhaps I could have done something more, perhaps something different…” He finished with a simple statement. “Death is so real.. death is inevitable.”
Every fiber of my being wanted to just shout ” It wasn’t your fault!” I wanted him to know that he tried his best and there probably wasn’t anything he could have done differently. I wracked my mind for anything that could sound comforting in situations like this one. Anything to ease the guilt and uncertainty he felt. It was in those silent few seconds, that the Lord spoke to me. He asked me to be still, to pray for wisdom in how to respond in this particular moment and the many similar moments we will encounter in the years to come. I knew this encounter with death would only be the first of many encounters my husband was to face in his profession in the medical field. Merely throwing out a comforting platitude, even a well intentioned Christian one, would not only be insensitive, but more so stealing away an opportunity for us to acknowledge the presence of our God in such broken moments. My husband was right, death is real, and death is inevitable. I sensed God asking me to intercede and pray for my husband.
After hanging up the phone, I prayed intentionally for the first time for my husband’s journey in becoming a doctor. I prayed that my husband would rely on the Lord for strength, especially emotional strength. I asked God to give my husband wisdom as he treats his future patients. I prayed for him to be filled with continuous Christ like compassion and love towards his patients and to see them as created in God’s image. I prayed that the Christ like compassion growing in my husbands heart would blaze into a fiery passion to look for opportunities to share the gospel with many of his patients and co-workers. I pray that he would see his patients as lost souls, that even if he could heal them physically, their ultimate need still lays within their spiritual state. I prayed and continuously pray that God would use my husband to be His light in the midst of much suffering, darkness, pain, and death. I prayed that he would pray for his patients, and lastly I prayed that my husband would never forget the hope and great treasure he has in Christ despite the physical death we are all promised to face. I asked the Lord to strengthen his faith.
Moving forward from that day, my husband has since learned much, grown much, matured much, and the Lord has pressed heavily on my heart to pray much, and never cease to pray.
I am no prayer warrior, but I am learning that the best way to comfort and support my husband when words fail , is to pray. To ask the perfect God to be the ultimate comforter and rock that my husband puts his confidence in.