Learning To Comfort...

~ Posted on Thursday, July 8, 2010 at 11:21 PM ~

Here is another awesome article I found that I would like to share through my own blog meme, along with my own personal experience:

Learning To Comfort

When she heard that her best friend’s baby died, Andra didn’t know what to do. Should she call her friend right away or wait a few days? What should she say? She asked her mother, Mary Farr, a children’s hospital chaplain, for advice. “Phone her now,” her mother said. “Tell her you love her and that you’ll call back later.” Andra followed that advice, and it meant a great deal to her friend.

How should we respond when those we care about suffer a loss? 2 Corinthians 1:4 tells us that God “comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.” It’s in God’s school of comfort that we learn to better understand the needs of those who hurt.

Mary Farr writes, “We live in a fragile and imperfect world tinged by brokenness and cloaked in unanswered questions. Some things truly aren’t fair. This is hard.” She encourages people to resist the temptation to fill the silence with talk. Instead, we need to be comfortable with saying, “I don’t know,” and not try to provide easy answers. And when there’s nothing to say, just sit together.

When friends need comfort, ask “the Father of mercies” (v.3) to teach you what to say and do.  —David McCasland

The comfort God has given us
He wants us now to share
With others who are suffering
And caught in life's despair. —Sper

God comforts us to make us comforters.


Reading this article reminds me of the time when my mum was in the ICU, days before she passed away. Mum was still conscious then but her kidneys are failing and she's been feeling weak and having difficulty in breathing.

I would like to share about the story of this old lady (in her mid 50s) next to mum's bed who is a diabetic as well, and she has been suffering from diabetes for over 7 years. One of her leg is wounded and starting to excrete pus, and the pus which also went into her blood circulation is making her unconscious and unaware of her surroundings. When she is awake, she sometimes cannot recognise her own family members. I have seen her talking adoringly to her husband and children (1 daughter, 2 sons). I have seen her scolding the doctors and hitting the nurse. I have seen her screaming for her husband to get out of the dialysis room, threatening to stab the 6 inch needle (use for dialysis) to her own veins if he did not leave the room, while continuing to scream out profanities and saying her husband did not support her living, did not even give her 50 dollars.

I was sitting on the other side of the bed next to my mum when all this happened (very scared she will stab any of us in the room actually). This are not her own actions. It's the pus which poisons her blood and goes into her brain that made her react that way. I remembered thanking God that my mum is not sick like that. Even though her kidneys are failing, she does recognise us. I mean, can you imagine how sad it will be for your own loved ones to curse and scold you and cannot even recognise you?

Anyway, back at the ICU unit when the dialysis session was over, we found out that the old lady's condition is getting worse and the doctor recommended that her leg be amputated to stop the pus from getting worse. As I was still at the ICU ward, I couldn't help but listened to the conversation as well and I saw how sad the old lady's family members were. I prayed for God's will on my mum's conditions.

When the old lady woke up, she didn't even remember the scene at the dialysis room. I saw her reactions when her family members told her what the doctor said. I saw how she cried that her leg is going to be cut off. I saw how her family members cried with her as well. If the leg was not amputated, the pus will spread further and she will be in worse conditions. You see, just the pus around her foot is causing her to threaten to stab her own veins.. imagine if the pus spreads all over her body? Now, if the leg was amputated, there maybe side effects as well.. as a diabetic patient, we all know that any injury to the foot especially is very very dangerous and risky. It's kinda like a do will die, don't do also will die situation...

Sometime later while the surgeons are getting ready for the operation, I went to the lounge room just outside the ICU unit (2 sofas provided for family members and visitors) and saw the old lady's daughter sitting on the sofa, body slumped and looking miserable. Until today, I do not know how I can bring myself or have the courage to approach the girl and asked her whether I can pray for her and her mother.

Here I am, with a mother who is fighting for her dear life, kidneys failing, mouth coughing out blood as she tried to breathe... offering a prayer to a stranger... I have never in my life be so brave to do that. I never dared to approach a stranger, never dared to even offer any prayers, let alone tell people I am a Christian. And I'm doing all of that at that instant. The girl (around my age) said yes to my prayer request. I was very nervous as I've never done this type of thing before in my life!

(* Photo taken from Google image search)

As she bent her head low and listened, I prayed with her. I prayed for God to protect her mother and for His will to be done. I prayed that her family will be given strength and comfort in overcoming the obstacle. I prayed for the surgeons skillful hand and wisdom in making the right decisions during the operation. I prayed that if her mother should be taken away, to let it be swift and that she will be spared from any sufferings.

Needless to say, the operation was a success. Although the old lady lost her leg, she is able to recover from the operation and was transferred to a normal ward after that. I have no idea what happened to the old lady or the girl as my mum passed away few days later. I did not get to see the girl again. But I am glad I did what I think is right. I am happy to be able to offer a bit of comfort to the girl, even though I desperately needed to be comforted as well... I do wish her and her mother well and I thank God for the courage He gave me to be able to pray and comfort a stranger despite my own situation.

* Please hover mouse and read more on: John 14:1, 2 Corinthians 1:5

Writer's Workshop - I Wish I Would Have...

~ Posted on Thursday, July 8, 2010 at 12:26 PM ~

This is my first Writer's Workshop entry in my own blog domain. For this week's, I'm choosing this prompt:

"2.) I wish I would have...describe a time when you didn't take action, but later wished you would have."

I wish I had stayed on at the hospital and be there when my mum passed away.

I seriously do. Sometimes I wonder whether that will change anything since my mum is in and out of consciousness during the last few days of her life, but how I wish I would have stayed just that one night and be there for her.

Mum was diagnosed with diabetes sometime in 2006 when my dad was having problems with his gout and other health problems. When dad passed away in April 06',  mum's conditions seems to worsen. I suspected that she has been neglecting her health when my dad passed away.. I mean, what will you do if your life partner for 3 decades plus passed away?

After dad passed away, there's only me and my mum left in the house. My elder brother stays about half an hour car ride away with his own family. My mum is a housewife, she cooks, cleans, chat with her sister and best friend on the phone sometimes, listens to radio, read newspapers and watched TV to pass her time. I continued back to work after things settled down and brought mum for her monthly healthy checks (her diabetes is under control by taking medicines).

One day, while I was getting ready to go work, I woke her up to tell her I'm leaving and she doesn't respond to me. She nods her head, and then she shakes it, and then she looks elsewhere. Very out of place look - she goes in and out of consciousness and fainted then. I realised something is not right and called my hubby (then boyfriend) and brother (at work already). Hubby rushed over (about an hour car ride) and helped send my mum to hospital. It was then that we were told her kidney conditions are getting worse. She's having low glucose level which caused her to be unconscious and unaware of the surroundings. The doc said had I continued to work and leave her at home, she might have passed away.

Mum was discharged a week after - she had no recollections of fainting and it was during the 1 week stay at the hospital that my sister in law (God bless you Rachel ceh-ceh!) brought a church friend (Cantonese speaking) over to visit mum and I got an SMS from Rachel in the afternoon that my mum had just said the sinner's prayer. Words cannot describe my feelings as I read that testimony. In fact, my tears still wells up whenever I think of this.. and as I'm writing this. Well, mum said her sinner's prayer and got better, her blood sugar was stabilised again and was sent home and we went on a strict food diet with her.

About few months later, I went on a holiday with hubby to Hanoi (we bought the tickets at the beginning of the year) and as mum's conditions have been maintained OK so far (her doctor told us a week before we went on holiday that mum's conditions are improving), we went ahead and mum went to stay with my brother and his family. On the last day of our holiday, I got a call from my brother that my mum's getting sick again. Apparently she went to the toilet (my brother and his wife went to work and their daughter was at the nanny's place) and was not able to even stand up - her kidneys are giving her problems that she does not have the energy to even push herself to a stand. She was stuck sitting on the toilet seat for the whole day until my brother and his family got home after work. They managed to get my mum up again and she refused to be send to hospital until I got back to Malaysia. Of course at this point I was angry, angry at my brother for not insisting to send her to hospital, angry at myself for going away on a holiday.

When we got home, we sent mum to the hospital and from there on, she had to go for dialysis as both her kidneys are damaged now. Every evening she had to go for dialysis and even though the needle is very long, thick and sharp, mum did not once complained of the pain at all. I really admire my mum's strength in overcoming her pain and problems. Mum was admitted to ICU for about 10 days and then her situation got better and she was transferred to a normal ward but within the same day, she was re-transferred back to ICU. During the brief few hours she was at the normal ward (sharing the room with 3 other women), mum was babbling stuff and keep saying the room is hot and dark. We tried to adjust the air-cond to the coldest temperature we could (even though it was later changed back by one of the patient's family cos it was too cold), we opened up all the curtains and windows but mum still says its dark and hot. And she also mumbled things like asking her mum (my grandma passed away about 2 years before that) to wait for her. In my mind, I prayed and said quietly 'Grandma, if you are really here, please go away. If it's not mum's time to go, please don't come disturb her.'

After a while mum slept and she was then transferred back to ICU. She was getting stable back in ICU but was still receiving dialysis treatments. Because I had just started work in a new place, I still go to work but left half an hour early everyday and walked to the hospital (about 15 minutes walking distance - there's no bus stop at my working place). On the weekends, I will overnight at the small lounge outside the ICU unit (family members are only allowed to overnight at the lounge sofa and a small room provided. No bed nothing for you but just the 2 sofa). Mum celebrated her 60th birthday at the ICU, I managed to pass a message to the hospital nurse to wish her birthday at 12am. For the few days after that, she slips in and out of consciousness and her body start to bloat with fluids. Doctor said her kidneys are getting bad and fluid retention is causing her body to bloat.

The day before mum passed away, I overnight at the ICU and my mum's relatives came over to visit her. Mum slips in and out of consciousness and I'm not sure whether she knows what is happening. The night before she passed away, the nurse told us to go home and she'll give us a call if there's anything.  I hesitated and the nurse said there's nothing much I can do by overnight-ing att he lounge and I was already there fr few days.  So, I went home and hubby stays for the night with me and the next morning at 7am, I got a call from the nurse saying that my mum's heartbeat is dropping and they told me to hurry up to the hospital. By the time we reached the hospital in 15 minutes, mum is already gone. She passed away on 11th Jan 07'.

I reached the ICU unit to see my mum covered up in a white sheet. I wish I had stay on the night before, at least I get to be near her when she leaves. I was there when my dad passed away and I do wish to be there when my mum passed away. I feel sorry for not being there when she goes. I'm only comforted with the memories that I get to spend some of her waking and conscious days praying and reading her bible stories, getting to hear her said 'Amen' when I finished telling the stories, getting to go church once with her, getting to tell her that I love her.. but I really do wish I could just turn back to that 1 night and stayed on...


* In loving memory.. *

What is Gravatar?

~ Posted on Wednesday, July 7, 2010 at 6:23 PM ~

Ladies and gentlemen, I feel I really should share out this with you guys. It's definitely not a professional lesson, more like a mini tutorial from me, a knowledge transfer I'd say. I think from now on, if I learned any new things that I can think can benefits you guys who are passionate about blogging, I'd like to share it out through my own blog meme, which is:

So, what is a Gravatar? No, no, not Avatar. I meant, GRAVATAR. With the letter "GR" in front. According to the website,

"Gravatar is an image that follows you from site to site appearing beside your name when you do things like comment or post on a blog. Avatars help identify your posts on blogs and web forums, so why not on any site?"

Errmm... does any of that make sense to you? Put it to simple lay-man words, Gravatar is an icon that represents you, an image in this sense that whenever you go to other people site or when you leave your comments, your icon/image will appear right where your identity is. If you are using Blogger, then your profile picture will be the one showing. But you see, nowadays, Blogger is not the only thing available for people to use on their blog or website. There are Wordpress and other blog host as well. So this is where Gravatar comes in handy.

If you noticed my blog, some of the people who left their comments have this funny looking images next to their profile:

Now it's definitely not my blog visitor / reader's choice to have that funny looking image as their profile picture. It's just that I like to imagine the people who left me a comment really looks funny like that hahaha... kidding kidding...

Back to being serious, now this is because on my blog template, it is defaulted that comments are to use Gravatar images to show the user's profile. If the person's email address is not found in the Gravatar's database, then this funny looking images will be shown - cos this is from the Wavatar settings in my blog template.

Meaning, when you leave me a comment, my blog template will search the Gravatar database using your email address. If they finds it, they will show your image next to your comment in my post. Else, the funny Wavatar icons will be shown. There are many other websites and blogs out there and a lot of them are using the same method, only that most of them choose Monster ID or Identicon instead of mine, which is Wavatar.

Monster ID icons looks like these:

Identicon icons looks like these:

As I'm no longer using Blogger, I cannot use the user's Google profile picture to show on their comments, hence Gravatar is the best choice. When you leave a comment on my blog post, you will notice a short description right next to the email entry which says " (Will show your Gravatar icon) " - this is because Gravatar extracts your image using your email address. I can of course select MonsterID or Identicon to show as your profile image but I prefer to use Wavatar instead. 

Simply put, to create your profile on Gravatar, you just need to enter your email address and upload your image into their site. Easy peasy! Of course, just a note of advise, if you are serious about blogging and establishing your own identity and also your blog identity, you'd want to design your profile image as close to your blog template. This is to make people associate the image with your blog whenever they see it!

You can click at this link to start creating your own Gravatar now! That's all the mini tutorial I have for now. Will post more when I came across any new stuff! Or feel free to drop me a comment or email and if I know how to do it, I'll be glad to share it in the next post, else I'll try my best to find out if I don't know about it. Cheers!