Psalm 116:15 King James Version (KJV)
15 Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints.
Consider Hospice. The following statement was taken from The Hospice Foundation Of America’s web description of Hospice.
Hospice offers medical care toward a different goal: maintaining or improving quality of life for someone whose illness, disease or condition is unlikely to be cured. Each patient’s individualized care plan is updated as needed to address the physical, emotional and spiritual pain that often accompanies terminal illness. Hospice care also offers practical support for the caregiver(s) during the illness and grief support after the death. Hospice is something more that is available to the patient and the entire family when curative measures have been exhausted and life prognosis is six months or less.
About nineteen years ago, I had a neighbor who was an over the road truck driver. The man’s tractor trailer rig had a beautiful bright red Freightliner tractor. It was always washed and polished each time that the man was home from a trip. The family consisted of the man that I mentioned, his wife, their adult children, and grandchildren. It was a frequent occurrence to see the family as they would share an evening meal around a table that could be seen through a side wall bay window. It was Thanksgiving of that year that I noticed the family sharing that meal. Early the next morning, the man left for an out of town trip. All seemed to be well with the family. It was when the man’s Freightliner wasn’t seen back in his yard that concern began to set in. Because of the questions that were clouding my mind, I decided to check on the man and his family. I walked across the street and knocked on the front door of the house. The man’s wife opened the door and invited me into the living room. What I encountered next was something that has stayed with me. The man was lying in a hospital bed, and he was dying; he man was suffering from cancer, and his time on earth was uncertain, but death was imminent. Hospice had been called into the situation and was providing outpatient support services. I spoke with the man, but he was very weak. I prayed with the family and returned home. A few days later, at about four o’clock in the morning, I received a telephone call from the man’s wife. She said to me, “Jimmy’s gone.” Suddenly, I felt like I had swallowed a brick. But, I was very blessed to have been called by the family, at such an early hour. I was called back a little while later and was asked to come over to visit the family. The family had spent their quiet and personal time with the husband, father, and grandfather. I prayed with everyone and returned home, with the knowledge that God had used me in a very special way to bring comfort into the life of a very special family.
It was about a year ago that a Hospice representative visited our congregation and gave a wonderful description of the services that are provided by Hospice. I would like to share a few thoughts about the things that were discussed with our church. I trust that my thoughts will be worthy of being shared about such a noble and worthwhile organization.
Our church learned that Hospice is an organization that financially works on a razor thin margin. Of its patients, who are inpatient or outpatient, their lives normally end while they are under Hospice care. Hospice facilities have very professional and caring employees and volunteers. Each facility Chapel is available for the use of its patients and families of patients. It is while a family is spending its last days, hours, or minutes with a loved one who is a Hospice patient, that there is the opportunity for someone to say, “I’m sorry.” It may be a time for someone to say, “I forgive you.” It may also be a time for someone to say, I love you.”
I have learned the need for churches to become involved in supporting Hospice facilities with donations of food and money. Whenever someone has been called to be by the bedside of a dying friend or family member, that grieving person may not want to be searching for a place where they can eat, especially when they know that the next time that they leave the room of their special friend or relative, that it might be the last time that they will see them alive. Food items are needed for such times as these.
When you walk into a Hospice facility, you will find very well-kept buildings that are neatly furnished, decorated, and maintained. The employees and volunteers are always very nice to visitors. Lighting is appropriate, and sometimes subdued. From the patient rooms you can hear conversation and the sound of television programs. Those are things that are obvious to a person’s senses. An unspoken, unseen sense, though, is that whenever you are walking down those beautiful hallways, you are in the midst of imminent death, to the left of you, to the right of you, maybe ahead of you, and maybe behind you. But, wherever you turn around and look, you will be sensing the presence of imminent death.
There was one occasion when I saw an emergency services vehicle pulling up to the rear door of our local Hospice facility. That sighting really affected me and stays with me. We don’t normally think about such a vehicle being used for that purpose. Ambulances are supposed to take people to a medical facility where they are supposed to be treated and returned to their home; but that is not the situation that happens with these types of ambulance rides. A friend of mine, who was also my deacon, is an EMT Supervisor. He told me that it is a different type of ride when he takes someone to Hospice. He said that you can’t say, “I hope you get better.” So, what do those angels of mercy say to their ambulatory patients? I don’t know the answer. I don’t think that anyone has that one figured out. Once, I knew a family whose husband and father was found to have a terminal cancer. It came upon him over a slow moving time of almost a year. The man was a former U.S. Marine, a deacon in his church, and a Sunday School teacher. He was one of the best men that I have ever known. He always took good care of his family, especially his wife. On the day that he became an inpatient at Hospice, he drove himself, with his wife by his side. The man never stopped being the protector of his family.
Now, it’s time for my sales pitch. Let me challenge churches, Sunday School classes, civic organizations, places of employment, and other organizations and individuals to provide assistance to a Hospice facility. If none is close to you, one can be found on the internet. You can send money to Hospice. Any amount of money that you send, will be an amount that they would not have previously had. You can also take a wicker basket to a Hospice facility, with your organization’s name affixed to it, and leave food items such as bananas, apples, cookies, cheese, or anything else that you think might be good snack items for visiting families and friends. You can also take juices and soft drinks. As what was said about the financial contributions, whatever food you take to Hospice is something that they would not have had, if you had not given it to them. It’s important to continue to contribute money and food items to Hospice. Please, let me tell you about the blessing that you will receive from your gifts to Hospice. Whenever you take food items to a Hospice worker, they will put the food in a snack area. None of the people who actually consume the food will know who it was that provided the food for them, with the exception of the name that you may have put on the food basket. I think that such an identifier is important. It could lead someone to your church, or to you personally.
Let’s close our conversation with a song that was sung by Bill Gather, along with the old Cathedrals. Of the Cathedrals, George Younce and Glen Payne have since “gone home” to be with our Lord and Savior, Jesus. May the song be a blessing to you.
2 Corinthians 5:8King James Version (KJV)
8 We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord.