Have you ever waited for a train to arrive? Or sat in a train station, treasuring last moments with a loved one as they prepared to depart on an incoming train?
You spend a lot of time wondering. And listening for the train’s arrival. The wait can seem endless…and then, suddenly, an announcement is made, and the hurry-scurry begins as people gather their belongings and prepare to board the train during its short stop at the station.
Being with a loved one as his or her earthly life draws to a close can be a lot like that. Yes, some people do die suddenly from a heart attack or tragic accident. But statistics say that only 10% reach the end of life suddenly.
That means the vast majority of our loved ones…and most of us…will be waiting and wondering when our last moments on earth will be.
I’ve been “in the station” with three family members as they neared the end of life. And in each situation, despite completely different causes of death, the question hovered over all of us. How much longer?
Ask any hospice nurse, and they will tell you that it’s impossible to predict. Yes, there are physiological signs of “active dying,” but a person can linger much longer than expected. The truth of the verse: “all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be” (Psalm 139:16) becomes very real at the end of life. Only God knows how many days we will be alive.
In a season of great uncertainty…of watching someone we love suffer and physically decline…how do we make the most of the remaining moments together?
Here are my top 5 pieces of advice:
Accompanying a loved one to the end of their earthly life is an emotionally painful, yet sacred time. Yes, watching them “board the train” is incredibly difficult. But the last days you have together…the days of waiting and wondering… can be a gift to you both. Use them well.
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