Friday, February 12, 2016

Away, On or Through? Ruth Smith Meyer

“Why do we have so many ways to talk about the ending of life?” a writer asked a while ago. “A person croaked, kicked the bucket, bought the farm, bit the dust, departed, expired, passed away, passed on or passed through—why not say it like it is?  They died!”  The many expressions, she thought, stem from people not willing to face the bald fact that death has taken place.

Death is a subject many are uncomfortable talking about and many would rather not think about this inevitable part of life. Even those who have confronted the idea and dealt with their apprehension may still have some qualms. My first husband when told he was terminal said “I’m not afraid of death; it’s the unknown process of dying that makes me anxious.” 

            Talking about it, though, is one of the best preparations for the time when we are confronted with death, whether it happens suddenly or we are told we or our loved ones are terminal.  More than a year before my first husband’s death, as part of a Marriage Encounter team, we wrote a presentation about our feelings as we think on the death of our spouse.  It was a difficult time of writing, but we trudged ahead until it was written.  That encouraged us to go ahead and make some tentative funeral plans.  We had no idea how soon we would be glad we had done the talking and planning before the reality stared us in the face.

            In the time after his death, I was glad for those whose comfort level was such that they could listen to my grief and weren’t afraid to mention Norman and talk about him.  I was also confronted many times with those who didn’t know how or were afraid of talking about death.  The tension was tangible every time I mentioned my husband’s name, and many times, the subject was abruptly changed.  I became acutely aware of the need of education about death.

            When my second love, Paul and I got married ten years ago, we knew that one of us would probably have to face the loss of a partner the second time. When he was diagnosed with a very aggressive cancer just two weeks after our marriage, we thought this may happen much sooner than we had hoped.  However, God gave me incredible peace, assuring me that I was exactly where he wanted me to be.  In spite of the hours and hours spent in waiting rooms and hospitals, those ten years brought joy and blessings far above what we could have anticipated. Even when at the beginning of January this year we were told there was nothing left to fight the cancer and that Paul would now be placed under the care of the Palliative Care Team, that incredible peace and joy remained.  We had ten years!

Having gone through the experience of ushering a second husband into the next life, I’ve been thinking a lot about that woman’s statement. Yes, both Norman and Paul died, and I’m not afraid or shy to say so. Somehow, to say they died, is not enough.  I was right there and sang both of them into eternity although this time I had the help of family around me. “Home!” Norman whispered with joy, in his final moment.  Paul relaxed as we sang “I can only imagine” and other hymns. He breathed his last with a smile on his face.  It did not seem like death so much as stepping through the gossamer curtain dividing this earthly life and eternity. Both of those occasions were not so much death scenes as times replete and abounding with life—life abundant.

“Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his faithful ones.”  Psalm 116:15

Out of the Ordinary, the story of her life is Ruth Smith Meyer's latest book.  You can read more of her journey there.  She would also welcome conversation with you, or is available to speak to groups.  You can visit her at


Rose McCormick Brandon said...

Ruth, this is a very touching article written from your heart. Thank you.

D. Bentley said...

What a beautiful picture of stepping into the next life you have painted! Lovely post.

Lux G. said...

How very touching. It sucks to think about losing someone we love but it's all part of life. We can't escape it. I just hope we have enough time to spend with them.

Peter Black said...

Thank you, Ruth, for sharing your gifts of faith, hope and love - the great triad, rooted in the grace of our Lord - that sustained you and your beloved husbands. Also, your vulnerability in doing so is a gift. (Lovely pics, too.) ~~+~~

Glynis said...

Ruth. You made me cry. Seriously beautiful and written from your heart. I think you certainly hit that proverbial nail on the noggin' when you said we need to educate others about death. What a beautiful way to begin that education with how you sang your beloved through the curtain. I can just see and hear you do that, sweet friend. What an inspiration you are. x

Tracy Krauss said...

this is a powerful testament to your faith. Thank you

Ruth Smith Meyer said...

Thank you so much for your comments. The death of both husbands was indeed a beautiful experience--odd as that may sound. It removes all fear of death for me and if, by sharing, I can help calm someone else's fears, then it is well worth sharing.

Bob & Ruth said...

What a beautiful description of death- so real. Thank you for serving others so willingly and selflessly.
Ruth Coghll

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