Every once in a while God gives us the opportunity to say good-bye to a loved one before they pass away. You may have experienced moments such as this in the past or may be going through it right now. Either way, it is still difficult to endure. Nevertheless, these are rare precious moments to be treasured as gifts from God. Not everyone has the opportunity to say good-bye to a trusted friend, a close family member, a loved one, or a valued mentor. Some must deal with the shock and loss all at once, but sometimes God graciously grants us an opportunity to say goodbye. This is a gift that can be used as part of the healing process of letting the person go. In the moment, such times are difficult to endure, but in the end they are a blessing and are very often helpful in healing from the loss.
In some cases we avoid saying good-bye because we don’t want to admit the end is near. We don’t know what to say in the moment we see the person or we fear that we will say the wrong thing. All of these concerns are valid and should not be minimized. Yet, if we are honest with our feelings and examine each concern separately, we can find the seeds towards healing.
Not wanting to admit the end is near. Yes there is always hope and God can, and often does, work miracles in the most hopeless situations. In some of these situations, He performs miracles way beyond our expectations and beyond even our prayers. In other situations, there is no miracle, there is only waiting for the end of a cherished life. But the waiting does not need to be wasted; instead it can be used as an opportunity to bring closure to the many lives it affects. Accepting that a person we love is near death does not mean that we are without hope, rather it means we are facing all of the possibilities and allowing God to choose the best one. The seeds of healing lie in the continued hope and promise of God that the person we love, as a believer in Jesus Christ, is about to meet their Creator and spend an eternity with Him.
Don’t know what to say. Spend some time thinking and praying about what you will say before you see the person. This is not a time to rehash old arguments, talk about the mundane, or discuss the latest medical decision. Rather, this is a time to extend love by asking for forgiveness if needed, expressing how much the person has meant to you by specifically telling them what they have done for you or given you, and allowing them to speak to you. When God calls you to spend time with someone before they pass, it is more about allowing them to heal, and at the same time enabling you to heal as well. These are additional seeds of healing during a difficult time. The memory of these moments will enable you to know that you have allowed the person passing the awesome opportunity to say what they wanted to say to the person they wanted to say it to. This is ultimately a gift of peace.
Saying the wrong thing. Fear is a powerful distracter from doing the things God has called us to do, but you can have victory over fear. It is an emotion that is useful in situations of potential danger but not useful when we allow it to parallelize us and stop us from completing what we know is right. If you are unsure what is right, pray. God in His wisdom will give you an answer. Just be careful to accept the answer and not wait for another answer that you really want! Most of the time, the answers come in the most unlikely of places so be open to listening to the Holy Spirit. Don’t allow fear to stop you from doing what you should do, instead use the fear to propel you to be sensitive to the person and their family during a very difficult time. The sensitivity you show them and their family is the seed of healing as it demonstrates compassion and love beyond circumstance or feeling.
It is truly a privilege to witness both the beginning and the end of life as in both we become more aware of the awesome power of God mirrored through His creations. While the passing of a life is sad, for the person will be missed, the knowledge of their salvation is the hope we can continue to bring the generations yet to come. This is the beginning of healing from our loss.