You worked oodles of years and so did he. You both paid into the "system" to help those who can't pay for what they need. This includes you! I don't think you should feel bad if you need to apply for help! That's what it's there for.
You said you've arranged a payment plan. How about talking to whoever provided care (hospital, doctors, etc.) and seeing if they have any programs to forgive part of what's owed? My adult son developed perotinitis and had extreme surgery and a long recouperation period during which he lost his job and insurance. The hospital wrote off his bill. The surgeon and anesthesiologist arranged payment plans and forgave 1/2 of his bills. These aren't things they tell you about unless you ask, but lots of providers have such things. You just have to ask about them. There were lots of forms to fill out, but that was so much less stressful for my son than trying to figure out where about $50,000 would come from.