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During the month of March, Celebration and AVOW Hospice join together for a butterfly release Sunday to remember those who have died in the past year. So, for this month's devotional, I would like to remind you of the best way to help a friend who is dying. These ideas are not new with me, but I have found them to be helpful over the years. They form the acrostic C.O.M.F.O.R.T.
C – I need to confront my own fears.
Before you can help anybody else you’ve got to deal with your own fears in your own life. Death exposes the hidden fears in us. It’s not something that you need to be afraid of.
The biggest mistake you can make with somebody who’s dying is simply not be there. That takes us to the next letter….
O – Offer my physical presence.
You touch them and you remind them that God is always going to be with them at each moment. You offer your physical presence.
M – Minister with practical assistance.
What does that mean? It means you do whatever they need done. You run errands for them, you help them in little ways, in practical ways.
When somebody’s dying they usually don’t feel good. They’re often in pain. You offer practical assistance to relieve pain, relieve discomfort.
Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Just say, what do you need? Don’t be afraid to suggest things.
F – Fortify them with emotional support.
Fortify means to build up. Fortify them with emotional support. You give them your physical presence. You give them practical assistance. And you give them emotional support. Because they’re carrying a heavy, heavy burden. People dying are carrying all kinds of emotions inside them.
One of the ways is give them tapes or cds to listen to. Give them books to read. Better yet read to them.
O – Open them up with questions.
When people are dying they’re carrying an enormous emotional load inside. They’re carrying worry and fear and doubt and shame and guilt and regret and joy and sorrow and anxiety and most people don’t know how to get it out. Friends help friends get it out.
You need to help people unload what they’re feeling inside.
One of the fears that a lot of people have when they’re dying is the fear of unfinished business. “I wish I had done this… I wish I hadn’t done that… I should have resolved that conflict… I should have made amends with… I should have done a reconciliation… I wish…” As a friend, it’s a good thing to help them talk about their unfinished business. They’re not going to get a chance to resolve it now. If you haven’t resolved it by now they’re not going to get a chance most likely. But it’s good to let them talk it out.
R – Remember the family has needs too.
This is where you can really be a friend to other people. If you’ve got a friend whose ill, they’re dying, you can really help the whole family, not just them. One of the ways you can do it is you can ask questions that maybe the family feels uncomfortable asking.
For instance: It’s ok, it’s perfectly ok, for you to ask somebody who’s dying “Have you made any preparations for your death?”
It is ok for you as a friend to ask, do you have a will? Have you made a will? Because you’re not going to be in it so there’s no personal motivation here. But you can ask some things that the family needs to ask but maybe they feel uncomfortable asking. That’s what friends do. Friends take care of friends and they take care of family.
There’s one last thing in comforting people. the T stands for the most important of all.
T – Turn them to Jesus.
We want them to go into eternity prepared to meet God. Having been at peace with God, having accepted his gift of salvation, having turned to Jesus so they’ll spend eternity in heaven. That is the hope of our faith.
Today on this day of release … May today there be peace within you. May you trust God that you are exactly Where you are meant to be. I believe that friends sometimes are quiet angels Who lift us to our feet when our wings have trouble remembering how to fly. I leave you today with this promise from God…“And He shall wipe away every tear from their eyes, and there shall no longer be any death; there shall no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain, the first things have passed away. And He who sits on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” And He said, “Write, for these words are faithful land true … Revelation 21:4-5.”