Question:

Our oldest member is 97 and is currently in anursing home. From the looks of things,she is very near death. One of our members who has been very close to her was visiting her this afternoon and also talked to the charge nurse, who told herthat she has seen many cases where the person seems to hang on just waiting for assurance.She suggested that someone close to our friend, like a minister, visit her,pray for her and assure her that it is okay to pass away.

Have youever had a request from someone like that? I have not. It sounds to me like a "Last Rights" that Catholics practice.I'm notso sure thattelling someone it is okay to pass away is the will of the Lord.

What are your thoughts?


Answer:

"But I do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning those who have fallen asleep, lest you sorrow as others who have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who sleep in Jesus" (I Thessalonians 4:13-14).

This is not a form of "last rights" practiced by the Catholics. It is meant as a gesture of kindness. Have you seen a young person about to embark on a major journey to somewhere they've never been? There is a lot of excitement mingled with many fears. Sometimes, right at the last minute there is sudden reluctance to make the final step that commits them to the journey. You know they are going to enjoy it, but the fears of the unknown start to get in the way, so you give them a little "push" and an assurance that it will be wonderful.

What the nurse is saying is that she's noticed signs that your friend is scared of the journey. She figures that some assurance will help her make the transition easier.

So go on down there, bring a lesson or a bunch of passages with you about the beauty of heaven, the home waiting God's children, the Father waiting to meet each one. Even if she doesn't respond, go ahead and remind her of the joys awaiting, many people hear far more than they are able to acknowledge when they get frail.

If you know of things that she might fearful of, say who is going to watch her cat, or who is going to look out for her son, give her what assurance you can that things will be handled and she doesn't have to worry about what she is leaving behind. More importantly tell her about looking forward to seeing her on the other side of the river when it is your turn to cross.

"Now may the God of patience and comfort grant you to be like-minded toward one another, according to Christ Jesus, that you may with one mind and one mouth glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ" (Romans 15:5-6).

Excellent thoughts and suggestions! I can't begin to tell you how much I appreciate what you have suggested; it helps greatly.