I recently received word that a dear childhood friend “passed away in her sleep last night.” Have you ever wondered how the dying experience will be? What one’s living spirit actually encounters as the body expires, letting go of this part of life? Will it be a wrestling match of sorts, a release finally of all those things one thinks one must control? Or a gentle passing from here to there, a soft step into eternity?
I think of another friend’s mother who is transitioning still. She is lingering, her body frail, her breathing yet easy, her consciousness gone to that place only she knows. What is she thinking? Or are thoughts too temporal in these moments? Are there concerns for loved ones that keep her captured here? Is she delaying her departure in any way, reluctant to leave? Or are there still greater reasons those left behind might never understand in her long dying process? As for my childhood friend . . . did she have any inkling when she retired last night that the greatest adventure of her life was about to begin?
When my dad died many years ago it was interesting to see evidences of God working in all the details of his dying, the mending of our relationships with him and among family members . . . knitting us closer together, bringing “all things to completion.” There were things far greater in meaning being accomplished as this final physical event of his life took place, and impacted so many people. The same occurred when Mother died over twenty years later. The minute details that were addressed, the presence and absence of family at her bedside, the preparations of medical help already in place when needed. Decades earlier when our maternal grandmother passed on, evidences of God’s presence were there as well, with the additional blessing of seeing her spirit ascend upward as she breathed her last.
In these departures of our loved ones there is that deeply private and personal experience of dying that is just their own. It matters not if one’s dying is comfortable, expected, traumatically shocking, painful, sudden . . . in each case that person must ultimately face this next step of life themselves. I am thankful for the many witnesses of near death experiences (NDE’s) who have shared their testimony. One dear patient I worked with reported, “It was like taking off a heavy old buffalo robe when I stepped out of my body. Then I saw my mother in heaven, sitting on a log a short distance from me, brushing her hair. She was about the age of thirty, did not speak to me, but smiled. I’m not afraid to die again.”
I also wonder at one patient I attended who was unceasingly distressed in his unconscious state in those hours before his death. What was his spirit experiencing that he should thrash and moan so? Was his agitation an indication that he was unwilling to go, that he was in pain, or that his vision of what was to come was distressing? What about our sweet baby great niece who was here one moment and then, with no warning, was suddenly gone the next? Did she delight in angels accompanying her home? Many reports of NDE’s include ministering angels, more evidence that something spectacular, indeed, does comes after life here. Another friend’s father rose up from his coma, opened his eyes, looked up as though seeing through the ceiling, smiled radiantly, and exclaimed, “Hallelujah!” just before he took his last breath. There are many many witnesses continually proclaiming the reality of life after death. I would love to have been one of those hundreds to whom Jesus appeared after His resurrection!
Until it is my time to go, the Holy Spirit of the Biblical Triune God, witnesses to my spirit that I can truly believe the life and proclamations of Jesus Christ, and everything written in God’s Word. What a blessing that God has supplied to us a Comforter and Helper to walk not only through this life with us, but into the next. Getting to know Him brings solace to me as I contemplate the unknowns of dying. I am thankful to have the BEST traveling Companion at my side now and when my time comes! He’s already been through every possible situation, has been from here to there, and has conquered death! I’m trusting in Him!
Philippians 1:6 (NKJV) 6 being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ;
John 14:16-17 (HCSB) 16 And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Counselor to be with you forever. 17 He is the Spirit of truth. The world is unable to receive Him because it doesn’t see Him or know Him. But you do know Him, because He remains with you and will be in you.
John 14:26 (NKJV)
26 But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I have said to you.”
Acts 2:38-39 (HCSB)
38 “Repent,” Peter said to them, “and be baptized, each of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 For the promise is for you and for your children, and for all who are far off, as many as the Lord our God will call.”