Mary cried when I asked how she was doing. She told me to not ask those kinds of questions because it was a reminder of how anger has disqualified her from heaven. Bill doubted God was listening because he had not yet died. Sylvia wondered what she had done to deserve God’s anger and wrath. John was that worrying about his wife’s welfare showed a lack of faith. Gerry doubting if God really had really forgiven his sins.
Not everyone faces Death in those ways. Some people’s faith fills them with peace and joy.
The reality is each of us will face death in our own way.
My job is to step into those situations and help alleviate spiritual and emotional pain. Many have said that they couldn’t do what I do. But really it’s easy peasy. All I do is toss out a few well-chosen Bible verses and one or two incredible quotes about death and God and it’s on to the next person and their problems.
Okay, okay that’s not what I do. Helping someone face Death takes patient listening and absolute dependence on the Holy Spirit to bring the peace that is needed. In other words, it is not a quick fix.
We will all face Death. It may not be us, but it will be a friend, co-worker, or loved one. And since Death will be hanging around, I offer the following to help in those times when someone you love is having a hard time when Death calls their name.
First, no one wants a lecture about what they should or should not be feeling. If your friend is scared, he is scared. If she is angry, she is angry. It is okay. You demonstrate God’s unconditional love when you accept your friend and his emotions. Listening to them and affirming your love for them in those times is good medicine.
Second, it has never been about how well we love God. It has always been about how well God loves us. There are a lot of things that go through a person’s mind when they are facing Death. Your wife may feel like she failed to love God with all of her heart. Your husband may wonder if he was a good man, father, husband, or friend. All of this focuses our attention on how well we did or did not follow God and often creates anxiety. From the beginning God has been and is love. Love is the antidote to those fears. Remind them, and yourselves, of that truth.
Third, it is okay to worry, doubt, and be afraid along with countless other emotions. Just imagine having all of your hopes and dreams disappear in an instant. God understands our humanity. If Jesus can say “Take this cup,” and eventually get to “Your will be done,” we can trust God will be patient and kind with us, too. Frustration, doubt, and worry are normal and okay. Besides, God has big shoulders. God can take whatever we dish out.
Fourth, people are not ‘giving up’ when they have chosen to quit fighting. They have chosen to take control of their lives. They have chosen to take whatever time they have left and live. Honor their choice and help them live their life.
Fifth, give them specific examples of why you will be okay. Reassure them that those left behind will be loved and cared for. Remind them of the lessons they taught you, the way they helped you face life, the gifts you were given. All of that will let them know they can let go and face death more confidently.
Finally, God is and will be their constant companion. God will walk with your loved one through the Valley of the Shadow of Death. God will calm their fears, weaken their worry, and cause their doubts to fade. And you, simply by accepting them and loving them, will prove that God is not far from them but as close as the hand that holds theirs.
There is coming a day when death, mourning, crying, and pain will be eliminated. That day is not here, yet. As we wait, be the embodiment of Love in the flesh and walk patiently and kindly with those you love. It will make a huge difference. I promise.