The patient: “Ray” and his family had been my patients for years.Ray, age 23, had a storybook romance with a Dutch woman who had been an exchange student at his high school. Both devout Christians, they sought their families’ and priest’s approval of their relationship and marriage.

What happened and how I was called upon: Shortly after their marriage, in fact the first evening of their honeymoon, Ray called me to tell me that driving from the church to a resort some distance away, his wife had fallen silent. When he pulled the car over, he found her unresponsive with one of her pupils extremely dilated. He was told in a local hospital that she had suffered a dramatic cerebral hemorrhage and that there was “nothing that anyone could do.”

How I helped: I spoke with Ray then, at his wife’s bedside in the hospital, and nightly for the next five days until she finally succumbed to her injury. I told him that even though she would probably never regain consciousness, that his staying with her, speaking to her, and even arranging to have a cot so he could sleep in her room would help her and him to honor the sacrament of their marriage.

How Ray found some peace: In our nightly conversations, I helped Ray to understand that his Creator would only challenge a chosen few with such unimaginable heartache and hardship. This for him should only be looked at as a sure sign of “grace” and that for the rest of his life he should remember to deepen his faith and moral compass so that he could help “shine the light forward” so that others could benefit from his example.

The patient’s progress: Ray gradually accepted that in both the Old and New Testament, the righteous were often tested with challenges like his, losing his new wife days after their marriage, and he learned to accept both the joyful and horrific as evidence of divine intervention. For me this involved honoring the belief system and “gestalt” of the patient and drawing from that to find a way out of this unconscionable situation. Today Ray is fine and visits his late wife’s family in Holland yearly. I’m still left in awe over this cruel twist of fate and Ray’s strength in accepting and dealing with the loss. For more with Andrew Rubman, ND, check out his video series, Nature Doc’s Natural Cures and podcast.