I was going to write about wakes and funerals today but instead I was moved by NC Sue's response so deeply that I thought I'd give it special attention:
I've worked as a nurse for 35+ years, and I've been at the bedside of the dying more times than I can count. I am not afraid of being dead, but after years of experience caring for the living... and the dying... I'm afraid of what I might have to go through between now and then.
There comes a time when it may be appropriate to embrace death - NOT out of depression or desperation, but out of a recognition that our earthly life IS finite, and rightly so.
There are times when the greatest gift we can give to those we love is permission to die in comfort surrounded by those we love. Read my earlier post at http://acts17verse28.blogspot.com/2009/04/janice-and-matt-true-story.html to see what I mean.
"Eternal life" doesn't mean that our current bodies continue forever. It means that our souls continue after the death of our earthly bodies. I pray that the transition I make... and that YOU make... will be gentle and surrounded by love.
For those of you who didn't follow her link in the post above. Here's a brief tease snippet:
Matt was reluctant to talk about it at first, but I think he knew that Janice was dying. We all did. And there were tears shed by all of us, especially on the day that Matt brought their little baby in and laid her on the bed beside a mom she would never know.
After seeing the extent of Janice 's suffering and after numerous heart-breaking conversations with the staff, Matt decided that the time had come for us to remove the breathing tube and to allow Janice the opportunity to die if, indeed, it was her time. I was working with Janice that day.
After the decision was made, I talked with Matt about what to expect. I told him that the ventilator would be turned off, the breathing tube would be removed, and that Janice probably wouldn’t live long after that. I told him that she might have some noisy and irregular breaths and that her color would change. I told him that he could remain in the room if he wished but that I would stay with Janice and be sure she wasn't in pain. Matt decided to stay.
Go read the whole post, get a hanky but also be sure to notice how beautifully this man loved his wife.
A huge h/t to NC Sue over at her fine blog, In Him We Live And Move And Have Our Being