Sitting with a family watching time pass and awaiting the death of a loved one can be both a blessing and a faith growing situation. Whether someone is a believer or not, rich or poor, educated or not, death is the equalizer of them all. The blessing of sitting with the family comes in the hours and moments as a chance to speak of God’s authority over death thanks to Christ’s death and resurrection.
As I sat yesterday and listened to the life stories of the family, I saw good times and bad. I heard stories of sacrifice and service and was amazed at the life of a little Italian lady from the Pittsburgh area. I saw family coming together in the days before hand as they rallied together and forgetting past differences, laboring together as a living example of the Ecclesiastes passage of two walking together. Death can be used by God, who also uses Satan, to accomplish his plan of glorifying His Son.
A friend sitting with a grieving friend can bring peace and comfort in a very difficult time. Jesus brought comfort to the sisters of Lazarus by his presence. While they wanted a healing, Jesus used the event to speak of his resurrection. A believing friend can also use the same time to speak of the resurrection. I have learned I cannot preach the dead into heaven, but I can take the opportunity to reveal Jesus.
Life review, anticipatory grief, helping with coping skills are tasks for the Chaplain. Speaking of God’s defeat of death and the grave is the task of a preacher. Walking beside the dying person and the family is not a task but a blessing.