January 28, 2012

we walked into her room. she was lying there, in her bed. her breathing was heavy and labored, the sound of it rising above the classical music coming from the small cd player in the corner. her eyes were open, unmoving, seemingly fixated on the wall opposite her. i sat beside her, as the others talked about practical matters such as morphine doses, death certificates, and autopsies. i sat beside her and placed my hand on her head. gently rubbing her aged forehead with my thumb i silently spoke. i’m not entirely sure to whom or what i was speaking, but i suppose it was both to her and my God.

be well.

please comfort.

you’re not alone.

may you find peace.

bring your peace.

not uttering them aloud these short phrases cycled through my mind and heart. i watched her chest rise and fall quickly with each gasping breath. i closed my eyes and words kept speaking themselves from somewhere inside me.







hospice refers to this phase as “actively dying.” it is during this phase that families prepare for actual death. affairs are put into order.  loved ones say their farewells in their own ways. comfort measures are followed for the individual “actively dying.” and many of the hours are spent waiting. waiting for something to change. waiting for a life to end.

hours later,  she passed from this world. where she journeyed on to from that moment i cannot know, and frankly, i’m not concerned with today. her body was collected. the death certificate arrived at our office, cause of death listed as “failure to thrive.”

as an intelligent woman i am aware that the career i’m hopefully heading into will include it’s fair [or not so fair] share of physical death. my heart aches at that truth and i wish it weren’t the case, but i know it will be. i know i will sit next to beds and do my best to honor someone as they “actively die.” i will probably see too many death certificates reading “failure to thrive.” my prayer is that i will also see healing. that i will also be a part of health and wellness restored. that i will be a woman who chooses to honor life in all it’s phases.

it’s been a few days now since i sat next to her bed. a few days since she passed from this world.

today i am sitting in a coffee shop grateful for the ways in which God is choosing to use this place i am in, these new experiences i am having, to teach me and speak to me and reveal more of his heart and his story in this world.

actively dying and failure to thrive do not only exist in the physical realm. there are people all around me, all around you, who are spiritually gasping to breathe. people, so many people, are spiritually wounded and in need of healing. lives are defined by chronic spiritual depression and anxiety. people find themselves outside the system, spiritually longing for care and unable to access it.  this world is filled with people who don’t even know about the tumors growing in our spirits spreading sickness throughout the rest of our being. we have learned how to function within our spiritual diseases. often overwhelmed, confused, exhausted, or angry we accept a spiritual failure to thrive. people give up. people stop fighting. active death is all around me…and within me at times too.

i keep thinking of the well-known words of Jesus: “i have come that they may have life.” and i keep thinking that i am called and compelled to share that particular part of his story with the world. in every way.

as a child of God, my prayer is that my life, within whatever vocational context i find myself, will be a part of spiritual health and wellness restored. that i will see God’s healing in people’s lives. that i will choose to be a woman who honors spiritual life in all it’s phases. i pray the ways i use my hands and feet and mind and body are ways God will use to share his story with the broken and wounded spirits in this world. i find it hard to imagine anything more holy.


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