When a loved one is dying and we can’t do a thing about it

An old friend of mine was just in town visiting her momma. Momma visits are supposed to be all about catching up and enjoying the comforts of home. Well, my friend’s visit with her mom wasn’t how it was supposed to be. Her mom has advanced ALS, and it’s stealing her life, little-by-little.

The pain of watching a loved one wither away is in a class all its own. The powerlessness is palpable. Grief doesn’t wait for the last heartbeat. Like dripping water on a dry sponge, the loss accumulates in the heart until it’s a heavy, drippy mess.

I remember that heaviness from the long loss of my dad. Dementia and Parkinson’s disease were the dirty-word diagnoses I grew to despise. My heart aches for my friend. For her family. For her mom.

I don’t have answers to give. And I refuse to hand out any of the standard platitudes that are supposed to comfort but don’t.

But I can pray and listen and love.

Do you know a family suffering a long loss? Let’s bring them to Jesus.


Lord, this broken world can be plumb unfair. There’s no sense to be made of sweet mommas broken by disease or strong daddies weakened by dementia or small children stolen by cancer. It’s hard to understand when You choose not to heal the ones we love so much. 

Oh, Lord, pull these hurting families into Your arms and hear their questions. Even if You don’t give them the answers they want, help them know, for sure, they’re heard and held.

Thank you for being a God who meets us right in the middle of our need. I know You see my friend and her family and the heartache they’re enduring. And I know You see all the other families out there navigating the devastation of terminal illness. Please, Lord, make sure they know You see them, You love them, and You understand.

You see them.

“You, God, see the trouble of the afflicted; you consider their grief and take it in hand. The victims commit themselves to you; you are the helper of the fatherless” (Psalm 10:14 NIV).

You love them.

May Your unfailing love be their comfort, Lord (Psalm 119:76).

How priceless is your unfailing love, O God! [May these hurting ones] take refuge in the shadow of your wings” (Psalm 36:7 NIV).

You understand.

When You walked this earth, You were fully God and fully man, “a man of suffering, and familiar with pain” (Isaiah 53:3 NIV). You suffered loss (John 14:1-13). Tears stained Your Savior face (John 11:35). You prayed for the cup of suffering and death to pass from You and endured when it didn’t (Matthew 26:39-42).

You are the “Father of compassion and the God of all comfort” (2 Corinthians 1:3 NIV). May these hurting ones experience Your comfort in the deepest places of their pain. Use people who’ve been there to help them believe they will, indeed, make it through this dark valley of death. For You are with them (Psalm 23:4).

Hold them tight, Lord. See them through. In Jesus’ Name, AMEN