With Courage Comes Strength

Supporting my friend and her husband as he died of ALS was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done.  But I wouldn’t have had it any other way.

It all began seven years ago when I met a new friend named Lecia. Her husband, Jim, had recently been diagnosed with a terminal and extremely debilitating disease called ALS. At the time she had two young boys to care for too.

Managing a Group of Caregivers

Fortunately, they trusted me enough to let me join them on their journey for the next five years until sadly Jim passed away. During this time, I managed an amazing group of about 25 to 40 volunteers who supported this family by delivering meals, purchasing groceries, mowing the yard, cleaning the house and much more.

With Them Every Step of the Way

Helping Jim and Lecia through five years of ups, but mostly downs broke my heart. But through each tear and feeling of frustrated helplessness, we knew that at least we were there. With each act of service, we were reminding Jim, Lecia and the boys that they were not alone in this struggle. And because we served as a crew, we also had each other to lean on.

We were with them every step of the way. And although I would have preferred to eradicate his disease, I coped with the knowledge that we were doing the best we could in a horrible situation.

Finding Strength and Courage

Some people may say, “It’s too hard. I can’t see him. I can’t be reminded of how tragic and unfair life is.” But how is this helping anyone?

Take it from me. I know it is scary. I know it is hard. But when you find the courage to walk with someone through utter darkness, you will also find the strength to bear it.

Yes, helping Jim, Lecia and the boys was a challenging journey for me. But it’s kind of like climbing a tall mountain. It may be filled with twists, turns and huge rocks. But by the time you reach the top, you are stronger, wiser and get the rare opportunity to view the world in a unique and sometimes beautiful way.

Do you know a caregiver who could use some support?

Share this post with them and send them a note of encouragement.

Elizabeth A. Billups is the author of “The Carry Crew Concept: How to Build Crews to Carry People in Hard Times.” She encourages you to please visit <a title=”carrycrew.com” href=”http://carrycrew.com/”>carrycrew.com</a> to learn how to carry your friends during hard times.

  • Rachel Bird

    A most remarkable account of a committed journey Elizabeth Billups has written. It is a beautiful reminder of how many caring people there are in our country and more personally our neighborhoods across this nation. I am 78 years old, retired and a widow. I do know the joy there is in service to others and continue seeking opportunity. Thank you Caring Bridge.

  • Lorraine Iversen

    I must post this because our daughter Ann Marie died on 10/19 and my husband of almost 64 years on 10/13. My daughter lived in St. Paul, MN so them emailed and Ann sent songs and they were both in hospice at the same time. Our other daughter died 3 yrs. ago so you can imagine that it is lonely BUT for our faith in Christ as Lord and Savior we know that we will meet again soon. I am 85 and look forward to the day that we will see each other. God is so good. God is my refuge and strength and a very present help in times of trouble. I am looking for the things that God wants me to do for i am here for a purpose and pray that I will continue to serve Him until that day he calls me home. God Bless all, Lorraine Iversen

  • Dorothy Felderman

    I just lost my husband of 63 1/2 years. We were always together. Our kids live further away and they all have families and their own lives to live. But the Lonliness is almost unbearable! Especially Sundays and Sunday nights! Although I have good friends they too, have their own lives to live. At 83 my health isn’t all that it could be! I tell myself that there are others worse off than i am! And try to have faith!