Faith, family help in dealing with death

Published 12:00 am Sunday, February 22, 2009

Glenn Mizell is a man very much in love.

But for just over one year, Mizell has been without the love of his life, his wife Deborah.

The circumstances under which Mizell lost his wife sound like the beginning of an epic Greek tragedy.

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During the night Jan. 1, 2008, Mizell mistook his wife for an intruder in their home and shot her.

Just moments after he realized his mistake — Deborah died in his arms on the floor in their kitchen.

The following months were devastating for Mizell but since then he’s developed an awe-inspiring sense of peace about what happened.

But while he’s accepted what happened, the guilt will never leave.

“Missing her isn’t new,” he said. “It’s the guilt that’s hard to live with.”

And all that guilt shows in Mizell’s face.

When he talks about his wife, his face wrenches and his eyes water and turn red, then just before he starts — he stops.

He said in the past year he’s actually gotten good at stopping himself from crying, most of the time.

Mizell said he believes what happened to him and his wife was a part of their destiny before they even knew each other — part of God’s will.

And Mizell said that helps him take some comfort in what has happened to him.

“I’ll see her again one day,” he said. “It’s just so hard until then.”

But until that day comes, Mizell, and others in the community are learning to deal with death day by day.

In mid-June Anna Byrne lost her husband, Mike, to complications from an aneurysm.

Byrne said before Mike’s aneurysm he hadn’t had any health problems.

“He was OK,” Byrne said. “Then he called that day and said he wasn’t feeling well.”

He was on a fishing trip and called to tell her he thought he was having a heart attack or a stroke.

Soon after Mike was in an Alexandria, La., hospital.

It wasn’t long after his arrival that he had surgery to treat the aneurysm.

Byrne said doctors told her Mike only had a 10- percent chance of living through the operation.

He did survive surgery and Byrne thought they were in the clear.

But Mike never woke up.

“That’s when I knew it was over,” Byrne said. “Every day after that was like a rollercoaster ride to hell and back.”

Byrne said the time Mike was in the hospital, from mid-May until his death in June, was the most difficult time of her entire life.

But she’s grateful for it.

“At least he was there and I could see him,” she said of Mike’s time in the hospital. “I could still hold his hand and touch his face and talk to him.”

Faced with the sudden loss of their loved ones, Mizell and Byrne have been learning to deal with loss.

While they said it’s the hardest thing they’ve had to do, they’re doing it by the grace of God.

Both have found common ground in God and their faith.

Mizell said while the months since his wife’s death have been the worst of his life, his faith in God has never been stronger.

And when Mizell talks about his relationship with God, he’s quick to point out that his wife helped him build that relationship.

It was Deborah who encouraged his participation in church and supported him when he was saved.

“I miss my wife,” he said. “But if it weren’t for her and the relationship I have with God because of her, I don’t know what I would have done to myself after this.”

Byrne said after the death of her husband she found a renewed sense of faith.

“I asked God why he did this,” Byrne said. “But I never blamed God for what happened, and I’m glad for that. I just think God must have really loved him to need him right now.”

Aside from God and friends, they said a focus on remaining active is key.