To reach out to others, reach for the light within

by | Mar 6, 2023 | Faith | 19 comments

My husband and I had planned to reach out to the young man. A year and a half ago, he seemed to be doing well, joining the Road Committee in our small neighborhood association, blowing leaves out of ditches on his mother’s property and others’, attending neighborhood meetings. Then we saw signs he was struggling. 

Though he waved when passing Cato and me as we walked the mountain road to and from the mailbox, he didn’t stop anymore. He didn’t show up at meetings and didn’t respond to group emails. Strange people drove up the road to his house or hung out at the foot of the driveway after he’d installed a make-shift barrier. Since his mother no longer lived in the house—she had moved to a house nearby, outside the neighborhood—I called to express my concern. Concern for her son, for what might be happening on her property, for the safety of our neighborhood. Reaching for the light within, I was guided to curb my anger, offer grace, and listen as she shared her worries about her son’s health and welfare.

After prayerful consideration, Keith and I decided to invite the young man to our home, this time by himself, and/or to accompany us to church. But since our new Subaru was still in the body shop—I’d hit a deer two days before Christmas—and our other vehicle is essentially a two-seater truck, we waited. We also needed the SUV to transport the new dog we’d adopted after Freya died. Two weeks ago, Wally the Subaru Wilderness came home along with new puppy Mac.Preoccupied with the adjustment of this new pack member, we put off inviting the young man again. And missed our chance. 

Picture taken a few years ago on another cold, wet day

He died last Friday.

On a cold, rainy day, along this stretch of the mountain road.

Exactly five weeks after I’d spoken with his mother. 

Guilt is the most common feeling after this kind of death—and confusion about how to respond. All our “reasonable” delays sound like a bunch of poor excuses, leading to selfish regrets and endless what-ifs. So, how to respond with grace? Reach for the light within and pray. Ask others to pray for this family. Send a personal note and/or sympathy card, call, and listen. Reach out to neighbors who are feeling confused, too.

Not the “reach out” we had planned, but the one we’re called to now.

Linkup with Five Minute Friday:


  1. K.L. Hale

    Carole, I read this with tears in my eyes. God bless this young man, his family, and both of you. I understand the guilt. I’ve had a similar experience with a friend and her son (he ultimately took his life last December). Guilt is real. God knows your heart, both of you, as you were striving to reach this young man amidst all the things going on in your life. It’s not the reach you had hoped-yet, I pray God uses you both in helping this family navigate the loss. God bless you, CD. Love, Karla

    • Carole Duff

      Thank you, dear Karla! Love, Carole

      • K.L. Hale

        You’re welcome, Carole. 💕

  2. aschmeisser

    Carole, you WERE there, and willing, but in light of what seem small obstacles, I think that you were protected by God from a situation beyond any help but His own.

    Something similar is playing out in our lives, actually, two situations. We can only stand back, at this point. We are not saviours; Christ is, and we have to let him work through our hearts, and not try to usurp His prerogative.

    You are in our prayers.

    Guilt you did not act in time
    is the very worst of prisons
    that you’re sent to for no crime,
    but for another’s bad decisions
    that rest squarely upon their head,
    and it’s God who has the power
    to make them face Him instead
    of what tempts in that last hour.
    Yours is not the agency
    to save, however hard you try;
    your role in this life must be
    to be wakeful and stand by,
    the watchman alert on the wall
    to be the channel for God’s call.

    • Carole Duff

      Thank you for reminding me that I am not in control. And for abiding with us, as I abide with you during this difficult time. -C.D.

  3. Duffs

    Carole and Keith,
    we will be praying for and with you. Heavy load to burdens, but we LEAN on the One who carried our load.
    George and Mary

    • Carole Duff

      Thank you, dear ones. Our strength comes from the Lord, in Whom we trust. Love you, Carole

  4. Gary Fultz

    That’s hard. I went through that (I still rerun my thoughts) with a neighbor several years ago now, who actually called me and said he was going to die sometime soon. I thought he was being eccentric. I was wrong. I did ask him if he was ready to meet God and from his answer I told him we needed to talk about that…Sigh.

    • Carole Duff

      Thank you for sharing and abiding with us, Gary. Yes, hard. We are not in control.

  5. Sarah Myers

    Oh gosh this is so hard. These situations are always so difficult. Sending prayers to all of you, S

    • Carole Duff

      Thank you for your prayers, dear Sarah!

  6. Sandra K Stein

    That is hard, and very sad.

    • Carole Duff

      Yes. We are abiding with the young man’s grieving mother and supporting her as best we can.

  7. dawnfanshawe

    Bless you Carole. As Andrew wisely reminds us, we are not the Saviours, Jesus is, and He is in control. Thank you for sharing these difficult emotions arising from a tragic situation. I remind myself over and over that I cannot change anyone and only can change myself in the power of the Holy Spirit. But we can love, encourage, pray for and not condemn. It is not your guilt to carry. But I pray with you and the family in mourning the loss of this precious soul, your neighbour. #26

    • Carole Duff

      Thank you for your reminder – I am not in control – and encouragement, dear FMF friend.

  8. Linda

    Saying a prayer for his family. So hard, and yet, I am sure you were interceding for him, even as the invitation was on hold.

    • Carole Duff

      Thank you so much, Linda.

      His mother is grieving, and we are listening and praying. And will help her clear out the house.


  9. Arleen Bohlmann

    Carole, your beautiful caring heart is all over this situation. Be restored in God’s Grace and forgiveness for going forward; as you are planning to help grieving mother clean out the house. Your presence will be a huge gift to her.

    • Carole Duff

      Dear Arleen, thank you for your encouragement. This is such a difficult situation, among others in our neighborhood. Keith and I pray every day for our neighbors and do what we can – and you do. Bless you! -C.D.


Leave a Reply

Meet Carole


Let's Connect

Favorite Subjects