«See, I have inscribed you on the palms of My hands.»

«My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of My Father’s hand. I and My Father are one.»

Today I would like to share some thoughts and my own experiences on the topic of “loss” with you. And you’ll learn about my blood levels and how I’m doing now that I’ve been home for over a week, and why my grandchildren sometimes make me laugh.

Hello dear family and friends,

Early in our lives we all experience loss, and this experience accompanies us through life. Maybe we lose a good friend, in any case the milk teeth, or a favorite toy gets broken. Some things we laugh about later, but much worse and drastic situations are experienced by children of divorce, for example. We may know someone in our environment who has become blind or deaf, or women who have experienced a miscarriage. If you suddenly become unemployed, you not only lose your job, but you also struggle with the question of self-worth and identity. One of the worst losses is that of a beloved spouse through death.

But a serious illness also brings loss. Loss of physical strength and certain physical and mental abilities, restrictions on mobility and freedom to travel or play sports or visit.

I admit that it is sometimes very upsetting and saddens me that I am now more or less confined to home and hospital and church visits and shorter visits in the surrounding area since April. I have been back from the hospital for over a week now and have sighed a few times that although I would like to do something, my physical strength is nowhere near sufficient for it.

The loss of most head hair I can safely get over (as a man over 50 it is over with the vanity 😉), but that many other things are simply no longer possible, sometimes really hurts. Especially since the high-dose chemotherapy and stem cell transfusion, I must be very careful in terms of contacts and relationships as a high-risk person to avoid infection.

What helps me not to become discouraged and to hide in the corner crying (even if I sometimes feel like it)? I must remind me: Do I have a right to health and freedom of movement? Can anyone guarantee that tomorrow I will still have what I have today? We have just experienced how quickly people lost everything they owned overnight due to massive flooding. And then I think: I am allowed to live in a very comfortable apartment, I have more than enough food and clothing every day, I have a dear wife who bravely and faithfully accompanies me through the suffering and cares for me, I have a great family that is there for us, and a Christian community that stands behind us, and a large number of people who accompany us, encourage us and pray for us.

I would not be having these experiences if I had not suffered a loss through this illness. Can’t and shouldn’t I even give thanks for the loss? Together with the thanks for everything I have just listed! The motto “in everything give thanks” I have already addressed in the blog some time ago. Can I also give thanks for suffering? Yes, because I may look at the good and then see so many reasons to be grateful!

A reason to be thankful is also the doctor’s report from the first control appointment four days ago, on Wednesday. Again, the blood values have risen further, so that most are already in the normal range. And the harmful proteins have reduced by 94% since the first measurement in April, what the doctors call a VGPR (Very Good Partial Response). According to the doctor, the value can improve even further. And I’m doing better day by day – even if taste, appetite, and physical strength are not yet there as before. And I don’t need any maintenance therapy for the time being, but now have a monthly monitoring check-up; the next one is at the beginning of October.

Our grandchildren always make us laugh: Last Sunday we saw our youngest daughter, our son-in-law and their three children. Naemi will soon be 3 years old. She asked me, “Grandpa, why didn’t you put your hair on today?” And later we heard from our daughter that Naemi was in bed at night and said, “I want my hair like Grandpa’s too.” To which her 1½ year older brother Jakob replied: “No, Emi, you have such beautiful curls!” Yes, she does have a very special head of red curls. But it warms the heart when she expresses her sympathy with my situation in such a childlike way. She often asks me on the phone about my pain and whether I am still in the hospital. That feels good!

How are you dealing with loss in your life? What kind of experiences have you had when drastic events have taken something dear to you away? I am looking forward to your contributions.

Best wishes


PS (if you are interested):

Roland Antholzer in his German book „Trauern und Trösten“ (“Grieving and Comforting”) gives helpful hints on how to deal with suffering, grief and loss from a biblical perspective. I have attached a short excerpt (in my own translation). The book was published in 2006 in the 2nd edition by CLV and is out of print, but can be downloaded in its entirety as a PDF at CLV (for those able to read German). I can only recommend it.

I gave my life to God at my conversion. With that I gave up any claim to my own life, to guaranteed health, to material prosperity, to successful human relationships and fulfillment of my own desires.

This also means: I can lose everything here, except my relationship to God! Because my heavenly father has promised that nothing and nobody can snatch me from his hand. For he has marked me in the palms of his two hands (see the Bible verse above). Even when I think I have let go of God, he holds me tight. Even when, through dementia or Alzheimer’s, I can no longer grasp it myself, God, in his faithfulness, promises to bring me to my destination.

And if God now puts my devotion to the test by allowing this illness, then I want to accept it; because I know that my heavenly Father has only good things in mind for me. I want to try every day to live in devotion to him and to bear the loss that comes with it in gratitude.