Eva Piper is no stranger to overcoming trials and heartache. When a semi-truck hit her husband, Don, on the way home from a church conference in January 1989, he was killed instantly. After being pronounced dead by paramedics on the scene, Don came back to life—90 minutes later.
Don is a pastor best known for his New York Times best-seller, 90 Minutes in Heaven, documenting his experience to heaven and back. Many have heard about Don's journey, but few are aware of the waiting and praying that Eva did in the hospital while supporting her spouse during the painful recovery process. It took years for Don to recover from the trauma of the accident emotionally and physically, and Eva was with him every step of the way.
In A Walk Through the Dark, Eva's new book that releases today, Eva shares how her husband's 90 minutes in heaven deepened her faith for a lifetime. Here's what she had to say about caregiving and learning to trust God's whispers through frustration, anger, and tears while her husband relied on her for support and survival.
What did you learn about caregiving during Don's recovery?
First of all, caregiving is on-the-job training. It's not something you go to school to learn. There are no books that tell you how to be a caregiver. The most valuable advice I ever received was given to me by a dear friend who said, 'If you don't take care of yourself, you can't take care of Don.' I had stayed non-stop at the hospital, and I was eating out of a vending machine. All of my energy was put into making sure Don survived. During the course of that time, I wasn't resting. When you aren't rested, you can't think straight, and you can't make good decisions. My friend was very blunt in telling me I had to take care of myself. She followed up with saying, 'If you don't let others help you do that, then you're robbing them of a blessing. You're robbing them of their opportunity to minister to you.' That was hard for me because I'm an independent person.
So friends and community were important to you during this time.
Definitely. Christian friends are one of God's greatest gifts. I thought I could do this on my own, but I realized very quickly that I couldn't. When I was in the ICU with Don, I heard these words over and over again: He's on life support. I realized that after we got out of the hospital and back home, that I had been on a life support system myself. It was hard for me at first to let other people help. There was a joy in the faces of people who were able to help me, even if it was something as small as them getting me a Diet Coke. I basked in their joy, and they basked in mine. It was a wonderful experience.