I write this entry with a heavy heart. The mother of the pastor at our church is dying. She has lived a very, very long and full life. She is loved by many, and many are suffering. What can we do?
One of the most difficult things to do is to minister to those who are dying, and comfort those who mourn for the dying. I mean, what can you say when encountering the raw emotions of fear, anger, dread and loss? It’s tough. For me, it has always been especially difficult because I always want to be able to provide a solution to problems, and with end of life issues I sometimes feel useless. Have you ever felt this way?
In our lives, all of us will at some point be called to participate in this ministry of love. Can we as Christians help the dying to face the end of life? Is there a secret to giving comfort to those facing the loss of a loved one? Some people seem able to deal with these issues far better than others. Why is that?
I learned the answer to that last question from the highest possible authority. That’s right, I learned it from my beloved wife. I have watched her over the years bringing comfort to those who mourn. I have seen her calm the fears of those about to leave this world. She seems to be a miracle worker … but she’s not. She’s just a very good Christian woman who knows a secret. Do you want to know the secret?
It’s presence. It’s being there. It’s deciding to reprioritize your day (or days) and be present, a presence that reminds the dying that that they are not alone, and that those who are suffering the loss of someone they love are not alone. It’s not what we say. Rather, it’s what we do, and more importantly who we are.
Mary and the other women wept at the foot of Jesus’ cross. They were present. Jesus saw them and took comfort from them. Some would say that they were powerless. They are wrong. Being present can be one of the greatest gifts we can give, especially to those who are near to death.
Give the suffering the gift of your presence!