Sharing A Spiritual Care Encounter

Posted: September 17, 2015 in counseling, religion, spiritual care
Tags: , ,

Is it okay for me to ask God to let me die, to come and get me?

It was 10 a.m. on Monday, and I was doing drop-in patient visits on the fifth floor. An alert and conversant 87-year-old woman responded to my introduction with, “I have a question for you.” I responded, “OK, may I sit down?” She replied, “Oh yes, please do.” When I was ready, the woman told me that she had not spoken to anyone about this … but “is it OK for me to ask God to let me die, to come and get me?”

She continued, “I have lived a long and happy life. My children are all grown and doing fine. My husband went to be with God many years ago. I have been sick for a long time and I am ready to go. All of my friends are gone; I want to see my husband again.” She asked again, “Do you think it is OK to ask God to come and take me?”

I paused just for a moment and said, “There is nothing wrong with that at all.” My response felt completely natural. I spoke from my heart as I went on to say, “It is perfectly fine to tell God whatever you are feeling. If that is how you feel, then there is nothing wrong with asking God to take you home; the rest is up to God.” She pulled a paper from her nightstand and said excitedly, almost like a giddy child, “Look, I’ve written out everything! I planned my own funeral; the scripture I would like read and even the songs!” I was still holding the paper when I said, “I think this is beautiful. There is nothing wrong with telling God how you feel.”

Before leaving I asked the woman if she would like me to pray with her, and she said, “Yes, I would like that.” I held her hand and said a prayer. She thanked me, we said goodbye, and I left the room. I went on my way visiting with other patients and did not think anything more about it.

The next morning while I was waiting for an elevator, the patient’s doctor noticed me. “Chuck, I know that you spoke with my patient yesterday,” she said. “I’m curious what you might have talked about, because she died very unexpectedly yesterday evening. The family was shocked as well; no one expected it.”

I remember feeling awkward. I didn’t know how to respond; I was surprised, too. But I repeated the conversation I had with the patient. Although she said little, the doctor appeared confused, to say the least. But I walked away feeling honored to have taken part in this patient encounter and deeply affirmed in my vocation as a chaplain.

By Charles W. Sidotiauthor of, “Living at God’s Speed, Healing in God’s Time” – http://www.amazon.com/Living-Gods-Speed-Healing-Time/dp/158595831X

Read the Introduction, Table of Contents and a Sample Chapter on the Twenty-Third Publications website:  http://store.pastoralplanning.com/liatgospiing.html

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