Big World Small Boat

Private Diary of A Priest. OK, so we're not all angels...Everyone needs a place to get things off their chest! And yes, I do talk to God about it all! Even He has a sense of humour! Want proof? Well, he made me, didn't He? Oh, one last thought-If you don't like what I've written, please keep in mind - it's MY diary. Go write your own!

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Location: England, United Kingdom

I've been serving children in crisis for over twenty five years. My goals are not to raise money, but to find organisations and individuals who can help change lives! What may be outdated equipment for you could change the life of a child in Eastern Europe! To learn more please visit our site at:


Words of Comfort For the Dying

What do you say to someone who is dying? What words of comfort for the dying can you offer? And especially, how do we offer prayers for the dying?

A parent of friends of mine is currently in our local hospice. It’s sad to see that his deterioration has come so rapidly and particularly in that he has so clearly been fighting for survival. On Saturday, he was unconscious and it was thought that he would soon pass. But on Sunday morning, he was chatting with his wife and hospice staff. This is not unusual.

It’s a common occurrence to see people in the final hours of their lives, moving between a peaceful calm and an anxious state. There is clearly a struggle in their spirit to live. And it’s a fact that the strength of that spirit is undeniably tied to their struggle to remain on this earthly plain. Even though their physical bodies are failing and damaged beyond our ability to repair, the powerful spirit within that individual – that deep instinct to protect our human shell, fights to accept any kind of quality of life that is offered them.

Death is that moment of passing that comes as the spirit acknowledges that these mortal remains are no longer able to sustain its presence. And it is okay to acknowledge this, to accept it as yet another part of our journey. In fact, this is where the presence of family, friends and carers can often help most, with their words of comfort and prayers. The dying will come to accept the new journey that their spirit needs to take.

If you’re a family member, speak of the happy times you’ve shared together, the celebrations you’ve had, the joys you’ve experienced together and never forget to share how much you love them. Acknowledge that this is just an interval in time and that you will all be together again soon.

If you’ve had a spirited relationship with the person who’s dying, acknowledge that you’ve had your ‘ups and downs,’ but reaffirm the power of that love and ask them to forgive any transgression there may have been. Please, do not use this time to be accusatory or stating what your wishes may have been. This time is long past and by your presence and giving of yourself; you are providing the greatest blessing you could ever imagine – for both of you.

One of the greatest gifts you can provide, whether you’re a family member, friend, or professional carer is the gift of touch. Even when words can no longer be spoken, the gift of touch is a potent form of spiritual communication. I often rub the hands or feet of someone who is in transition. There are times when I stroke their hair. These gentle acts are no different than the loving embrace we receive as we come into this world.

And of course, there’s the power of prayer. Never underestimate the strength of that communication. As you offer your supplications, not only does God hear, but the living spiritual being you’re praying for hears as well. Acknowledging that it’s okay to let go, that there is life beyond is a form of blessing. And indeed, you too will be blessed.

Heavenly Father
You have given us so much. Thank You for the gift of life, for all the treasures we received, through the wealth of those who’ve loved us and those whom we’ve loved.
This body You have given is frail and damaged. And now we ask You to grant us peace, as we begin our next journey, to a new life, free of pain and suffering. Ease the sorrow of those we leave behind, knowing that we will always live on in their heart.
Take my hand and lead me now, until that time when we shall meet again, on that day where there is no sunset and no dawn. Amen


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Anonymous Anonymous said...

My father is dying and I had no idea what to say. I found this site in Yahoo and I think its the most valuable thing Ive ever seen on the internet! I love your simple words of love and comfort. Ive been afraid to touch my father and now I feel guilty. Today when my sister and I visit dad Im going to rub his feet. He always loved that. Thank you for putting this on the internet! It was meant to be that I found you. This was the greatest Christmas gift I could have ever received. We were praying for him to get better but I now realize I was being selfish. He is 88 and he should be able to let go. He has been a wonderful dad. Thank you!xx

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Speaking of death...I heard from Marisha that you had been hospitalised too, and I was worried about you, especially since you never wrote to me. But now I see that your wonderful blog has been updated, fortunately, so I guess you´re fine after all. I'll spend my x-mas at home here in Sweden, but go back to Ukraine in January.
Well, Merry x-mas and a Happy New Year to you, Father!


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I didnt know what to say to my sister today. She has lung cancer and not expected to live much longer. She is in hospital now. This has helped me. Thank you for taking the time to give your advice.

Blogger  said...

Thank you for these words. I have a friend who is 19, and has about a month yet to live. He was transferred to his own home for hospice care, and I did not know what to say to him. Thank you once again for your words. :)

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Your words of advice have been so helpful. I am struggling with belief in that there is a heaven now that I am going thru the possibility of my husband not surviving much longer. Your site gives me hope somewhat but mostly it helps me with knowing what to do when death knocks.

Blogger Father Bill Haymaker said...

Dear Friend

I’m saddened to hear of your husband’s illness. Now is the time to be with him, to speak with him, sharing fond memories you had together and most importantly, letting him know that you are there with him.

Please accept this in the spirit in which it is offered. If you are suffering with doubt, as so many of us do, please give thought to this: First, you do not need to be religious in order to be spiritual. We find our spirituality in many different ways. It does not have to be within four walls of a building. Secondly, if you’ve asked for a ‘sign’ that there is new life after death, please consider this. Turn off your computer and go outside. Look around you. Look in your gardens: for everywhere you go, whatever you do, the message is loud and clear, that in death, there IS new life. God bombards us with this message constantly. It’s our own fears that dismiss it. Dying is as natural as living and should be celebrated with the same sense of adventure and welcome as birth. Sadly, many of us have created an unnatural fear of death. And it’s only when we accept that dying is part of our cycle, that we will begin to find peace.

Go be with your husband now. Embrace him if you can. Rub his feet, massage his hands, and speak with him. If he has been suffering, tell him it’s okay for him to go now. The spirit is more powerful than we can imagine and it is conditioned to fight for the shell in which it lives. Set it free with love.

And know that there are others with you today who will share in your sorrow and rejoice in your happiness. I wish you and your husband peace. +

Blogger Father Bill Haymaker said...

Dear Anonymous: I forgot to add - you might also wish to visit my dog's blog. (He's a far better writer than I am!). Somewhere near the bottom of it is an elegy which I encourage you to read, entitled: Death is Nothing at All.

Dog Dogma

I wish you Peace in all your journeys. Fr B+

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Father Haymaker

I stumbled onto your site when looking for what to say to a mentor who has only a few days left.

I just wanted to say thank you for sharing your thoughts and to let you know how much I appreciate your kind and thoughful words. You have given me the basis and confidence to speak with this kind soul one last time.

Kent in Canada

Blogger Father Bill Haymaker said...

Thank you for your kind words Kent. Each and every life is a gift and should be recognised as such. But also remember that life is a mystery as well. I believe that when God places His gentle breath upon us as we embark upon that journey home, it is then when we begin to gain a greater vision to see what lies ahead. I'm reminded of this often. One of the greatest moments was when an elderly friend who was dying, caught me watching her while I was reading to her. You can read about the experience by clicking on: What’s wrong? I’m only Dying!

I wish you peace in all your journeys! Fr. B+

Blogger Gloria said...

I am at a loss as to how to deal with my husband's illness. I am watching him die in front of my eyes. It is a horrible and painful disease that is wearing his poor body down. He does not want to die and is fighting it. I came across your website when I did a search on what to say to him. I want to somehow give him peace. I want to let him know it is okay, but he will NOT accept the inevitable. I was in denial myself, but now I have to accept it. Or maybe I should just let him hold on to his hope, maybe that is the answer for him?? I do not know what to do. What is the right answer for him?

Blogger Father Bill Haymaker said...

Gloria, I’m saddened to learn of the suffering both you and your husband are experiencing. Hope is the most powerful elixir we possess. Many people often experience a loss of faith in times such as these, but it’s the power of Hope that lifts us.

You’ve shared that your husband refuses to accept the inevitable. Clearly, he’s a strong and good man. Don’t deny him that right to cling to Hope. Allow him to fight. But if I may be frank, there may come a time when in his body’s process, he may become no longer able to speak. I believe this is when that powerful spark within him, his soul, continues to fight on his behalf. This is the time when it will require your greatest of contributions – knowing that he still hears you:

Let him know how much he is loved, that there’s a greater world beyond and that it’s okay to move on, still all the while, providing him with the nurturing love you’ve given all along.

I have no right to give you instruction as to what is right or wrong in your care for your husband. I can only share my own experiences. But what I can affirm is that I have no doubt, whatsoever, that when your husband does move to acceptance, he will, at last find peace, as will you.

You may wish to read a note I wrote regarding a friend of mine named Sarah at:

When it’s okay to let go

and my later note:

Thank You Sarah

I’ve also modified this reply since first posting it, as I wanted to share a thought about you as well. Gloria, during this challenging time, please, please ensure that you take time for yourself. As difficult as it will be for you, seek camaraderie among close friends. Go out for lunch or dinner. Go to theatre, if you’re in Britain, visit one of our magnificent national gardens. You must ensure that the love you have for your husband is extended to yourself as well.

Gloria, I wish you and your husband comfort and peace.

Fr B+

Anonymous Anne Templeton said...

Father Bill - Thank you for being there for us this past week. You made my fathers funeral a true celebration filled with both laughter and tears. When you pulled out the milk bottles from under your pulpit and carried them to Dads coffin we all heard the familiar tinkling sound I had heard all my life when he returned home from his rounds. It made us feel Dad was right there with us. It was such a wonderful surprise and the most wonderful part of the service. Thank you for being so caring and sensitive to my Mums needs. She said other than us she couldn't remember the last time anyone had hugged her! Thank you for everything. Anne Templeton

Blogger Chazah [South Africa] said...

Thank u so much for sharing such a loving insight into those who are dying or have passed on into the arms of the Lord. My Mum, who lives in the UK, is dying right now of lung cancer and my Dad has to go for kidney dialysis abt 3x's a wk. My young sister, who lives nr them, is carrying all the trauma and care of it on her young shoulders. She has barely any support frm anyone and feels very alone in all this. I live in South Africa and unable to visit to help her as I am not able to travel due to being mostly housebound myself thru illnesses, it makes me feel so helplss and frustrated with worry bcuz I cannot give them/her the comfort and support she and my parents nd right nw. But I found your wndrful blog on google search and it has given me some much nd'd advice thru your care and love and compassion. Evn tho I have lost many dear loved ones and friends over many yrs, this time its hitting me hard and I kp having flash backs of me and my Mum when I was a child, a teenager, etc while living undr her care. Nw that she nds mine I cannot giv it and it is breaking my heart. I knw the Lord and love God with all my heart, but for some reason no words will come and I don't knw what to say to Mum when I phone her.... but nw your words and advice has inspired me to bring some cmfrt to her. Thk u! Thk U! I am very grateful to God for u 2dy! :o) I have also jst texted my sister to read your blog and told her it will help her right nw.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you for this. I am visiting my dying mother and we've had a broken relationship for 30 years. I am so grateful for the sharing and prayers so that I could comfort her and make peace.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Father I copied your prayer last year and lost your blog address. But I kept the prayer on a piece of paper and was able to type it in the internet and find you again. It seems many people have copied it since you wrote this. I believe it touches so many in such powerful ways. I need it again and more. My husband passed away 5 years ago and now my mother is coming to the end of her life. Thank you for these gentle comforting words.

Anonymous kat said...

Thank you,Im going to give my aunt a break on saturday,shes been caring for my uncle with end stage cancer(that robber of our loved ones)hes now under hospice,hes always been the one who does for everyone,the nicest man,I just dont know what to say,Im afraid I will walk thru the door and start crying and not stop...

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was looking for some words to say to someone who has cancer. These are the best. I was trying to think if I had to mention the cancer but this helped me understand. Now if my mothers pain goes away Ill even thank God!

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am in route from MI. to FL. to hopefully hold my fathers hand one more time and tell him I love him. I can't type this without crying, I would love to comfort my father in prayer but I'm afraid I won't be able to say 10 words without breaking! I do not want to upset him, I want him to look forward to standing in the presence of our maker. He has fought cancerS for more than 10 years now and it is now won the war. Do you have a comforting one line prayer for me to share, my mind is a blank!

Blogger Father Bill Haymaker said...

Dear MI. to FL.

So many of us have developed a fear of death and dying. I think we do this because we've created such an unnatural fear of death. Why can't we approach it with the same sense of adventure as we would a new birth?

Our Lord gives us powerful messages of our new life to come, if we would only open our eyes to recognise. Just go outside and look around you. You will see that we've just left that swirling, dark, cauldron of winter - that blinking of an eye called winter. And we've moved to that new birth called spring. How more powerful a message can that be?

Tonight through my Compline prayers, I shall hold you and your father in my prayers. And with my morning prayer as well. Please know that you're both embraced with His love.

And as for words to offer for your father? I'm not really sure they're necessary. The very fact you've come all that way to be with him could not be more powerful a message to him as to how much you need him. Embrace him into your arms. That will say far more than words could ever convey.

But if you feel you really need them, perhaps something such as these?:

Gracious and life-giving Lord, I thank you for all that is precious in my father's and my life together. Embrace my father with Your love. Place Your gentle breath upon him, as he begins his journey, towards that moment when he will come to stand before Jesus, on that glorious day in which there is no sunset and no dawn.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hello Father, my name is Chris and I'm from Dublin, Ireland. I'm writing to you to ask you would you please say a prayer for my Grandmother who has only this week been told that she has inoperable pancreatic cancer. She is literally the back bone of the whole family and is a remarkable woman for her years. ( She is the youngest 84 year old I have ever seen ) Since being told the whole has been plunged into utter devastation. Nobody knows what to say or do and all of us are going around with puffed eyes. My mother is on the computer night and day trying to see if there is any therapy or different avenue available to treat and fix her condition. My Granny herself has the most dedicated faith that I have ever seen in somebody, but yet I see her and I know that she is terrified of leaving " her husband of 63 years " and her "girls" ( her four daughters and son ) . She has another Daughter who's name is Angela that sadly passed away in 1983 at the age of only 23 at the time. On the doctor informing her of the terrible news, her only words were " well I havn't the time to die just yet as I have three grandson's weddings and two other grandchildren's graduations to be at " .... that's the kind of woman she is Father. What's utterly horrible and distressing is seeing her in pain the whole time and it's not right or fair that she has to endure this at her age. She really means the world to all of us and I can't imagine life without her. I can't envisage going over to her house and her not being there, or not calling her on any given day to hear the words " well hello love " ..... since this news I feel as though I'm loosing my mind and that God is being so unfair to my Gran. She has never hurt anyone in her life and has always done the right thing and yet this is how things are turning out for her. We always imagined our sweet Gran always being around, but that when it was her time that it would be in her warm bed where she just goes asleep and doesn't wake up. I'm so desperate that I'd do anything to keep her with us ..... I'm travelling down to the West of Ireland soon to get bottles of Holy Water from St. Brigid's Well in County Clare to bring back to her. The family are also talking about bringing her to Lourdes to hope for some sort of Miracle from both God and Our Lady. Please Father please if you can please have a word with God and ask him to let us hold onto our Nan for a while more. I can't bear the thought's of her being afraid and in pain and not being here with us. Please please please Father help our Nan and family. Thanking you Chris and thanks for taking the time to read this message.

Blogger Father Bill Haymaker said...

My Dear Chris: I'm saddened to learn of your Grandmother's suffering. I pray there will be the right medication to help alleviate her pain, whatever God feels her journey may be.

Chris, you've made it very clear that your Grandmother has had a rich life, filled with not only loving, but being loved as well. It's a sad fact that many in our world have never been able to make such a claim. You've also indicated that your Grandmother is in her mid-eighties. Sadly, I find myself celebrating funerals quite often for people who have failed to achieve even half those years. But it always compels me to wonder how many chronological years are we supposed to live before our journey to our new life, free of pain, suffering, and loneliness begins.

Many of us go to such great strides to avoid acknowledging ourselves as mortal beings. We do this because we have created such an unnatural fear of death and dying. But I would suggest that this fear will only dissipate once be begin to accept that dying is as natural giving birth. In fact, I pray that the days will come when we begin to look at death with a sense of excitement and joy - especially knowing, as I can see you are a man of faith, that we have a new life before us.

Were you aware that the funeral liturgy we follow is actually an Easter liturgy? And rather than a liturgy of despair, the funeral rite is an acknowledgement of our faith in Christ. It’s an acceptance of God’s promise to be with us always, to the end of time.

I'm sure your Grandmother's physicians are doing all they can to not only attempt to eradicate her cancer, but to make her as comfortable as possible. These shells in which we live don't come with a warranty. And there are times when, regardless of how difficult, painful, and frightening it may be, we must accept and prepare that our loved one may be close to beginning their own new journey to that new life. Once we have grown in this spiritual, earthly, plain, it becomes time to move on to the new life we've been promised.
Of course, I am honoured to hold your Grandmother, you, and your family in my own prayers and supplications. And I know you shall do the same. But I would also hope that if your Grandmother's journey here may be drawing to a close, that each of you, rather than letting her see your distress and fear, that you work together to make these last days beautiful and memorable for her.

Write her. Share with her how much she means to you. Share some of the private, personal moments, each of you shared, that has meant the most to you. Encourage distant friends to write her, sharing similar stories of affirmation and love. Locate recordings of her favourite music. Embrace her with love. Perhaps display a photo of Angela. She may find comfort in knowing that they will be together once again.

Whatever your Grandmother's journey may be, find comfort in the faith that she will never leave you. And rejoice in her new life. She may not always live on within your eyesight, but she will forever live on in your hearts.

Postat de Tatăl Bill

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear Father Haymaker

This is Chris here again and I just wanted to say a massive thank you for taking the time in both reading my post to you and more importantly for taking the time to issue such a quick response. I genuinely from my heart thank you. You have wrote such lovely words regarding my Gran, and you have given a new insight and understanding to me regarding my Gran's journey ahead. As I reply to you my Gran was taken into hospital earlier today in chronic pain. My parents are over there with her now and it appears they are keeping her in for more tests tomorrow and to try and ease her discomfort. I have prayed to her daughter Angela that when the time comes that perhaps she could come down and take my Gran with her on her journey to Heaven so she won't be afraid and that hopefully she will go without any pain. I take into account that at 84 years old she has lived a good life and that she has seen many years that others have not reached, I guess in a way the longer you have someone, the more your desire is to keep them. I know everybody says it but she really has been the best Gran in the world, and I just pray that she will reach Angela and Heaven ...... if anybody deserves it, she does. I will do as you have said and I will begin writing a letter to her that when it's her time to leave, she can take it with her. The reason I don't want to give it to her directly is that I don't want her fearing that I'm saying goodbye. I got her flowers and a dvd of a detective series ( she loves them ) as a little token ....... I just pray that her passing ( which appears near ) is a pain free one and that Angela comes for her so she is not afraid. I have prayed for Angela to try her best and fix this problem for her but it's possible that she has not got that power I guess. Thank you again Father for your words and prayers and your wonderful advice. You can't possibly know what a difference you have made. Chris and I too will offer a prayer for both your health and wellbeing.

Blogger Father Bill Haymaker said...

Chris, my Dear Child of God, all of you shall be in my fervent prayers. Do not be afraid to tell your Grandmother how much she means to you. Tell her how she's enriched your lives. For each of us there comes that transition when rather than being cared for by our elders, that it is time for us to care for them. Nurture her just as she would nurture you. And most of all, reinforce how much you love her.

I hope you've been able to read a note or two from my other postings:

I'm Only Dying


Thank You Sarah

Chris, may our loving Creator embrace all of you.

Now Lord, you let your servant go in peace
Your word has been fulfilled.
Support us O' Lord
All the day long of this troublous life
Until the shadows lengthen and the evening comes
Our busy world is hushed,
The fever of life is over and our work is done.
Then Lord, in your mercy, grant us a safe lodging
A Holy rest, and peace at last
Through Christ our Lord. amen
Fr Bill+

Postat de Tatăl Bill

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you for giving me the words to say to a very special friend that is dying
I will miss her deeply buy she will have a body without pain or scars .She will be with loved ones .Thank you

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mom is suffering! But she still fights... She has had no intake in 5 days (no water or anything) no output at all ... She has been suffering with Alzheimer's for 4 years! We keep saying in God's time but then we say she is fighting.... Which is it??? Why is she lying there like this??? She has taken care of people all her life...why can't she die with dignity instead of the agony of suffering and pain!!! Hospice keeps saying that she is transitioning.... Enough is enough!!!

Blogger Father Bill Haymaker said...

Dear Anonymous

Sadly, this happens on many occasions. I feel passionately that the indefinable spark or energy within us, that we call our 'soul' constantly fights to protect the shell of the body it has inhabited for so many years.
It's a painful thing to see as we want the best for our loved ones. One thing I've found that provides a positive contribution to a transition from the shadows is to speak often to your mother - speak to her soul, tell her that it is okay now to let go, that there is a new life ahead. I also strongly encourage you to consider the power of tactile communication: massage your mother's hands and feet. Tell her, out loud, how much she has given you all through your lives and how you know that you can celebrate when she passes to her new life.
One thing I can offer assurance about is that with the professional, loving, and caring support of your hospice team, they are ensuring that she is not in any physical pain.
You're giving your mother precisely what she needs most at this moment - love; ever-enduring love. And know that this transition is only brief and that her new life shall begin soon. Hold this within your hearts in the challenging days ahead.
I wish you peace and I offer you the blessings in which we hold faith in our new life to come.

Fr B+

Anonymous Anonymous said...

My neighbor I love so much. This is just so hard.

Blogger Unknown said...

My 63 yr old brother in law has been fighting cancer for 6 months .The drs just told him they dont know why he is still here I know he is so afraid that he keeps hanging breaks my heart being in the medical field for 34 years ive been through this many times I know that this is my calling and have walked through the comforting steps with him .comfortable silence holding his hand rubbing his head and reading the Bible.However I gave never seen anyone this afraid or anxious he is more tortured by his fear than the there anything else I can do? My pastor told me to let the nurses take care of him and quit allowing myself to be taken advantage of.He wants me with him and I feel that God wants me with him as well I feel he is very comforted by just my presense alone but I dont understand his silent torture...I would be greatful for your thoughts thanks and God Bless

Blogger Father Bill Haymaker said...

Dearest Gayle

First, I share in your distress over the challenge you’re facing with your brother in law. From your writing, I must gather that perhaps he does not share the same strength of faith as you?

The scenario you describe is not an uncommon one among those diagnosed with terminal illnesses. Part of the patient’s demeanour can be that of fear, indeed. However, we cannot dismiss the reality that some of it may relate to a subliminal act of manipulation, more known these days as holding you as an ‘emotional hostage. Regardless, this is not to suggest that their actions are motivated by selfishness, nor an egocentric personality. As you’ve alluded to being in the medical field, I’m sure you’ve witnessed similar behaviours among other patients, or heard family members express their concerns or frustrations over similar events.

In thinking of you first, my immediate thoughts are that your minister(s) will have a far more intimate knowledge of you and your personal psyche. I suspect the words they’ve shared with you is sage advice. It’s important for you to provide a loving, hopeful, and calm level of support for your brother in law. Equally, it’s essential to your own mental health that you ensure you do not become caught up in the vortex of his fears and despair.

Currently, I’m serving several adults and children, whose lives are in various stages of coping with the sequela of cancer. One is lingering, where she’s moving to and from the shadows, another has been freshly diagnosed and is striking out at everyone she loves for rescue, and another, who possesses a peaceful resolve and provides more emotional support for others than she does for herself. And the children, God Bless Them, remain with God’s gift of innocence and hope.

I’ve learned both personally and professionally how important it is to be able to compartmentalise each situation. This is especially important because of my work with victims of child-trafficking in Eastern Europe. I’ve learned, in the most difficult ways, that if I fail to keep both my spiritual and emotional commitments controlled, I begin to lose the perspective to serve others.

And as we do not know one another, I ask you to consider whether what you’re experiencing may be affecting other areas of your life, such as family or work.

You’ve not indicated the stage or nature of your Brother in Law’s cancer, T1-4, etc. If it’s more advanced, then some of the palliative care pain management medications may help to settle both his restlessness and fears. If he’s in earlier stages, there are, thankfully, some psychotropic medications which the Oncologist, or Palliative Psychiatrist may consider, such as Sinequan, or certain SSRI’s.

From our spiritual and/or religious standpoint, I have a great number of things to say along these lines. Most importantly to me is how we offer productive words of comfort to those in crisis. Over many years I have learned the most powerful lesson regarding well-meaning clergy and lay-ministers who tend to use Biblical passages as immediate salves for the soul.

If your brother in law does not share the same faith you or others do, whatever words we may offer will not necessarily reach the bosom of his soul, especially when he’s in the midst of gritting his teeth in pain, or in the peak of agitation over his fear of mortality. I’m both embarrassed and ashamed to say that I’ve seen, first-hand, individuals who represent themselves as ministers of God, stand by a bedside and hand pamphlets filled with Biblical passages to the dying, encouraging them to read those words and commune with God, proclaiming that by doing so, all their fears and challenges will disappear.

Endeavours such as these can not only be useless for the ones in need, but at times, even destructive. There’s a far more powerful ministry in reaching the frightened, the dying, and the angry; that’s the Ministry of Presence.


Blogger Father Bill Haymaker said...

Gayle, Cont’d
By all means, pray for your brother in law – you need not be at his bedside. If he has expressed faith, then ask him whether he would like for you to pray together. If not, this is not a reason for you to walk away. In fact, it’s one of the greatest times for you to deepen your prayers when you are in your moments of solitude, or at your church, or prayer group.

But by extending that ‘Ministry of Presence,’ you’re showing that you do care and that you’re offering him all you have within you for his future. The next step, I’m afraid is his. He will need to decide from where his peace will come.

The apostle Paul wrote, "Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting? The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ" (I Corinthians 15:55-57). In other words, the power of death's sting is rendered useless against those who trust Christ. Sin alerts death of our presence.

And Gayle, I offer this prayer for you to consider:

Gracious and Loving Lord

Your Word says an anxious heart can wear us down. This is how I feel my brother in law and family must feel, as if they’re carrying loads far heavier than they can bear.

I pray that you place Your gentle breath upon my brother in law and his family, that they may feel your loving and powerful embrace. Help them, O Lord, relieve the weight of fear and anxious thoughts. (Proverbs 12:25a; Psalm 94:19)

I’m guided to know that our hearts should not be troubled; but that is their struggle – help them to trust in You, as I do. Help them to understand, and especially feel, that You are the one who makes a way when things appear impossible. Nothing is too hard for You, Lord.
(John 14:27; Isaiah 43:19; Jeremiah 32:17; Luke 1:37)

I do not presume to know your will. I place my trust and my faith in you, Christ Jesus. Embrace my brother in law, and embrace me, loving Christ, that I may continue to do Your will.

In Christ’s name. Amen

Fr B+


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