A Soothing Presence
“Whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be judged but has crossed over from death to life.” —John 5:24 (NIV)
Marilyn was nonresponsive when I visited with her in hospice. She seemed peaceful, her hands resting quietly on the blanket. The idea of launching a conversation without knowing if she could hear me was difficult. I simply didn’t know what to say. But that’s the wonderful thing about books: They can bring comfort in challenging situations.
So I visited the book cart and found a small volume of Best Loved Poetry. For about twenty minutes, I read poems by William Shakespeare, William Cullen Bryant, John Donne, and Helen Steiner Rice to Marilyn. I enjoyed the flow of words and hoped she might too.
Then I switched to something that sounds easier, but is, in fact, quite difficult—at least at first. That’s being a “soothing presence.” Hospice visitors, families, caregivers, and volunteers do a lot of this. Part of the hospice commitment is that no one should die alone. Whenever possible, the support team of family and hospice workers are there at the end of life. This is, for everyone, a moment of sadness, relief, amazing quiet.
As I continue my work in hospice, I see over and over that we are never alone. I feel the presence of the Lord right there. I can almost touch Him.
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