“On the seventh day the child died. David’s servants were afraid to tell him that the child was dead, for they thought, ‘While the child was still living, we spoke to David, but he would not listen to us. How can we tell him the child is dead? He may do something desperate.” David noticed that his servants were whispering among themselves and he realized the child was dead. “Is the child dead?” he asked. “Yes,” they replied, “he is dead.” 2 Samuel 12:18-19
Many people are afraid to use the words, “dying” and “death.” Instead they talk about “passing on” or “no longer with us.” Such was the case with Alma in the hospital. She was very elderly and sick. The doctor told the family and me that Alma would not live through the night. The family insisted that neither I, nor the doctor, should tell Alma that she was dying.
For me, it was a difficult devotion to have without relaying a message of what was really happening. The family tiptoed around the room to be with Alma and whispered amongst themselves.
The next day, the doctor, family, and I were surprised to see Alma sitting up and talking. She had a sudden burst of energy but still was on the road to death. After the family left for lunch, Alma took my hand and asked me if she was dying. I answered, “Yes.”
She then told me that she figured out what was really going on by the way the family was acting and whispering around her. They did not want to talk about her dying. As her chaplain, we were able to review the saving work and death of Jesus for sinners. Great comfort and relief came to her. She would share her faith and comfort with them when they returned.
Facing death, really turned out to be a blessing for everyone — for Alma, her family and for everyone that attended the funeral and heard the pastor speak about Alma’s trust in the LORD at the time of her death. Denying the reality of death had fostered confusion and hurt, while facing death head on brought comfort, as we shared together the hope and comfort of Jesus’ saving love when they needed it the most.
Thank you, for enabling us to be with people like Alma and her family during this bittersweet time of their lives. Your partnership in this ministry makes it possible for us to share the hope that we have in Jesus Christ during these difficult times of life.
Chaplain Kenneth Wenzel