When someone we know is nearing death, how do we help them die with dignity? How do we help the family navigate the medical desire to preserve life at all cost? How can we prepare to die with dignity?
Death and dying are inevitable aspects of life; too often we live without adequately preparing to die. Many never get around to planning an estate or writing a will. The writing of a will is a source of dignity and comfort. You make known your desires and wishes for the dissolution of your earthly assets. This relieves your loved ones of the pressure of deciding for you, they don’t have to guess what you want or what they think you wanted; it is in written, legal form.
As members of the clergy, we also serve as spiritual advisers. We can advise the processing of the dying person’s anxiety and fears. Make suggestions for the dying person to journal (write down their feelings and concerns) and offer non-judgmental listening. Ask if there are any matters that we as clergy can be of help. Even at the point of death, affirmation of faith is priceless. We should never shy away from offering opportunities for reconciliation with God, family and friends. Unfortunately, many die with unresolved broken relations and grief. Clergy and spiritual leaders can certainly help with reconciliation; after all, the Christian faith is about reconciliation. At Calvary, God is in Christ reconciling the world unto Himself.