When Grief and Illness Strike

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by Maggie Brendan

Ever heard the phrase- “if you’re healthy then you’re a wealthy man?” Most everyone can identify with that phrase if you or your spouse have fallen sick. It’s easy to take our health for granted when you’re feeling well, isn’t it? Each of us, at one time or another, experiences illness or the loss of a loved one smack dab in the middle of a writing deadline. It has happened several times to me.

While I was working my first novel, No Place for a Lady, one of my brothers died from lung cancer rather quickly. In March, almost exactly a year from that date, I was finally ready to send out my query letter for my novel, when my second brother died from a rare disease quite suddenly. We were very close, and I didn’t think I’d ever look at my writing again since he was a writer and my mentor, too. But God has a way of healing the heartbroken. You see, my brother had read that query letter the week before he died, deeming it an excellent one. Through the strength of my faith, family and church friends, I garnered enough gumption to attend my first ACFW (then ACRW) conference in Denver. I met with Colleen Coble, one of my favorite historical writers, who shared with me the loss of her brother and how she began writing. I was so inspired. I told Colleen right before he moved to Montana as Deputy Superintendent of Glacier National Park, my brother spoke at my Bible study, Write His Answer. I was going to go to Montana after the ACFW conference to see my brother’s writing cabin. Colleen told me that I would find healing for my heart when I got there. It was a great trip to Glacier, and God gave me a great idea for my second novel, The Jewel of His Heart.

By the time I started my second series, I felt my heart healing. With a new three-book contract, I was on deadline for Deeply Devoted, when I was told that my third brother was dying. I worked hard, day and night on my novel, knowing any day we could lose him. I tried to balance my time between seeing him when I could and other things that must be done. I learned to let a little dust and clutter go. I prayed God would let him live long enough for me to reach my deadline. God blessed my request when two weeks after I submitted my book, he died.

I braced myself for when my deadline approached for Twice Promised, wondering if I’d have another crisis. I did. My husband was diagnosed with a rare disease and we struggled to make sense of all of it. There were other things that occurred that threatened to completely undo us both. But we hung onto God’s unending promise, to never leave or forsake us and the One who enables us to be strengthened. I’m happy to say that I was able to meet every deadline, including Perfectly Matched, without an extension.

Maggie Brendan
Maggie Brendan is a CBA bestselling author, twice nominated for the RITA Award, finalist for IRCA Award, and Heart of Excellence. She is a member of the ACFW, Author’s Guild, RWA, FHL and GRW. Her series include Heart of the West, The Blue Willow Brides, and Virtues and Vices of the Old West.

Comments 0

  1. Thank you so much for sharing this, Maggie. I had met my deadline two days before my husband got sick in his final illness so I haven’t had to work through this. It helped me greatly to read how you handled the pain and inspired me to sit down and write.

  2. How timely is this! I was just offered my first contract for fiction. Before any negotiating could even occur, a call came informing us that my dear mother-in-law’s inoperable cancer had come raging back. Of course, immediately other family situations fell apart in rapid succession like dominoes. This seems to be the norm, for my life at least. But God provided. Not only did you speak to this, but Michael Hyatt’s podcast on The Resistance did as well. I listened to it last night. These two messages were exactly what I needed to hear, both appropriately timed for strengthening me. I’m not alone! Thank you, Maggie, for sharing what you did right now! God used your words to empower me to move forward.

  3. Hi Maggie:

    I think your example serves as a powerful witness to the rewards of faith. It?s the difference between ?Why did God let this happen to my loved ones?? and ?Why were my loved ones called home at this time?? Vince

  4. Maggie, that you are faithful to do what God has called you to do in the midst of such grief is a testament to His sustaining power and His carrying love. I am thankful that He continues to comfort you and has brought healing through your losses, and I’m truly sorry for those losses. May He continue to keep you. I will be praying for your family, particularly for you and your husband. God bless you.

  5. Melinda, I’m so glad that my post was just what you needed to hear. Yes, Gay, we’re never alone because He is there in the midst of all our trials. I’m so glad this has been of help to y’all. During all those times, it was hard to see how God’s purpose would be done. He’s still working some things out. I seriously don’t know how people without faith can come to grips with serious issues and heal without God.

    I appreciate everyone taking time to post. 🙂

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