Emotions of the Heart

Have you ever been in a situation where you had to give very bad news to someone?

I think of the Doctor’s who so many times have had to give their patients devastating news and I wonder how they do it. I could never be a surgeon, and have to look into someone’s eyes and tell them that their loved one didn’t make it!

These thoughts have gone through my mind before, but especially these last couple days. Yesterday marked 35 years since Nelson, my brother, died. 35 years since we received the phone call that forever changed our lives.

The phone call was devastating for us to receive but yesterday I couldn’t help but think about the one who had to make the phone call. The one who had to call my Dad and tell him that my brother had collapsed with a massive heart attack and died.

My brother was working at Goshen College. He had graduated from it and been hired on to work in the Communications Department. Over the years that my brother was in college my parents and the President of the college had developed a friendship.

I think of the shock and sadness he must of had when he first heard the news about my brother, and then of the dread that filled him knowing he had to call my Dad. I can’t imagine having to be the bearer of news that I knew was going to devastate not only my friend, but their whole family.

I think about the little time that passed between when I answered the phone and he asked for my Dad.  How he probably was wishing he could hang up as he was waiting for my Dad to come to the phone.

My thoughts also went to Nelson’s friends who were with him when he died. The ones who saw him collapse on the field. I can’t imagine their emotions. One minute you are playing a fun game of soccer with your friend and the next minute you are performing CPR on him!

The EMT’s that were called to the scene, my brother worked as a EMT as well, so the guys called to the scene knew him. How agonizing for them to realize that this time they knew the person whose life they were fighting for!

My purpose of writing was not be morbid, for it is so sad, but its real! Its real emotions that so many people went through on May 1st, besides just my family.

So often we can be so caught up in how an experience affects us and we can forget all the others that were affected in various ways. From the friend who first started the CPR to the Dr. who had to make the call to tell them to stop, that nothing more could be done.

How did that Doctor feel when he went home that night. Knowing that a young man’s life had ended. No matter how many times a Doctor has to make that call, it still has to be rough, unless you develop a heart of stone. If he had children, did he hug them a little tighter that night?

My thoughts went to Nelson’s friends who had to go back to the apartment they shared together and see his stuff all around. See all the reminders of him knowing that he would never step through that door again. Having to look into the sad eyes of my brother’s dog, as they cuddled him and their tears fell on his fur.

Seize the day! Cherish the Moments and remember how each day is a gift from God, how are you going to unwrap it?




28 thoughts on “Emotions of the Heart

  1. I’m sorry to hear about your brother. I remember when my husband had to tell my mother in law about her other son’s critical condition. My husband knew there’s a very small chance his brother will live. He had the difficult task of breaking the bad news to their mom.

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  2. I’m so sorry for your loss. I have two brothers, 77 and 75 and a sister who will be 68 later this year. I’m the baby, bringing up the rear at 63 in a couple of weeks.
    I took it upon myself to ring my brother in NZ when Mum died last year. I had promised I would regardless of the time, which was around midnight there. I also rang my uncle, my Mum’s last surviving sibling and my Aunt (my dad’s sister) as I believed my sister would not be able to. She’d text me that Mum had died and I rang her immediately. She said she was in a ‘bad place’ so I tried to relieve the pressure for her.

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  3. There are some moments in time that never leave us. They remain as crystal clear as if it was just yesterday – not years and decades. For you, this is one of them.

    You’re right – it must be terrible to be the messenger of such heartbreaking news.

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  4. During my 45+ years of nursing it was not my responsibility to give the devastating news of a loved ones death to a family. It did, however, often fall upon my shoulders to pick up the shattered pieces of those impacted and support them in their earliest moments of grief by showing compassion and many times by listening rather than talking. A single death touches many and the outward ripples are often unknown and many times overlooked. You have given great thought to those ripples and that provides meaningful insight. When you lose someone you love there is a void that can never completely be filled by another and that is as it should be, or so it seems to me. It is our responsibility and our duty to honor those loved ones, keeping them alive through our actions and sharing our memories of them. You have done that admirably! “It’s only when we truly know and understand that we have a limited time on earth – and that we have no way of knowing when our time will be up, we will then begin to live each day to the fullest, as if it is the only one we had.” Thank-you!

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  5. What a sad day for you and your family, and all those who knew your brother. And you’re right, it is also tough to break bad news like that. When my stepdaughter died, I broke the news to my wife. She went completely insane, and I had to stay very close to her, to keep her from hurting herself. Of course, it was much harder for her than for me, but I’ll still never forget how emotionally challenging it was to make it through that experience.

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    • OH Tippy, she is blessed to have you! So sorry about your stepdaughter. I am sure it was very challenging, for it is so hard to see our loved ones hurting. Especially when there is nothing we can do to take away their pain.
      I was hurting a lot when my brother died but I will always remember the night he died and seeing my parents cry, especially my Dad. That just tore me up, for I believe that was the first time that I had ever seen him cry.

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  6. I haven’t had to tell anyone about someone’s death, but I had to make the decision to honor my father’s wish to end heroic measures when the doctor called me at work. My stepmom was on the phone with his nursing care facility and thought she had the most important call so ignored it when the hospital tried to call. I’m grateful for that, because her daughters (my younger sisters) would have despised her for not trying to save him. Since I had been his favorite when I was younger, and the clearly knew I still loved him without reservation, they took it better. It still was the hardest thing to do. Huggerz. ♥

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