She was in her seventies, young to die in our current day and age and yet, old to have survived the years since her original diagnosis. She knew she had lived on borrowed time and had taken every opportunity to make the most of it. She encouraged me with the words on her last day, “It’s okay, it will be a good death.” I was inspired and convicted in equal portions.
I wondered, “How can I help others to have confidence in a good death?”
I am so thankful for patients like her who taught me what Living with the End in Mind truly means. Each brush with mortality and what can feel like randomness became a quest for truth and a belief grounded in the faith of my patient.
A good death? What possible good can be found in death? How in the world does anyone have a good death? And yet my breathless patient was genuinely peaceful as she prepared to depart this life. She seemed to possess a great secret that might benefit all those she was leaving behind.
This was a woman who was confident of her destination.
Her confidence in the promises of God led to her assurance of her good death. The Apostle Paul faced death many times and yet looked faithfully, longingly, to that final breath with his words, “For me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.”
She had asked questions about her dying process. Her concerns on this day were the breaths that took place before that final, long exhale. She was going to have a good death and yet, on this day she was also seeking good in her dying journey.
I was there to make sure her dying journey was as good as possible. You may find yourself in the same place, caring for someone as they make their way home. How can you help when you may not have been a caregiver before? How can you help when your heart is grieving, and you cry when you are alone? How can you help when the one you love no longer desires to talk and longs for blissful sleep? How can you help when you are so tired and your body aches from sitting in one position and groans as you shift about?
If you are the one who bears the heavy, heavy load as the clock’s tick tock slows in cadence and finally becomes quiet. Tick….Tock, Tick……….Tock, Tick……………………….
You matter here too. I see you. We see you. God sees you. You are not alone. We will be sharing wisdom for you to bear the weight, to share the weight, and to care for the weight of the suffering yoke.
God speaks through His Word to guide us in all that we face as a believer in Jesus Christ. We also have a Savior who understood clearly what it is to suffer in our humanity. Let’s begin with the one who never leaves your side.
“Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn of me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”
If all you saw in this scripture was, “My burden is light”, you close your eyes squeezing tears as you do. Perhaps, you wonder, “How can my burden be light?”
Let me share with you all that He is telling us.
- Come to me – He desires for you to seek him in your suffering, He is right there but you still have an action step. Come…You can come to him with every emotion you carry. It may be just grief. However, it may be confusion, tiredness, anger, and doubt. Whatever it is, go to Him! He desires real relationship and that sometimes means sharing the hard stuff and He is prepared.
- All you who labor and are heavy laden – If you are the caregiver and the companion who bravely walks forward in love for the one you are losing, you understand fully what it means to be heavy laden.
- I will give you rest – Rest, rest, rest! How is that possible? When your mind, heart, and Spirit receive the rest that Jesus is offering you can begin to walk with peace. At night, pray for this rest he offers that your mind and weary thoughts can settle, and restless sleep becomes resting sleep, and your physical body will be renewed with the Power of the Holy Spirit.
- Take my yoke upon you and learn from me – He is there to disciple you through every experience. He understands more than anyone the yoke you bear. He wants to come together with you and help you bear that yoke.
- For I am gentle and lowly in heart – He humbly asks to be your weight bearer. He understands your grief. He has walked with many that share your journey.
- You will find rest for your souls – Even as I read this phrase I am comforted. You need soul rest. You need this now more than ever. Go to Him…Come to Me. He is calling your name.
- For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light – The Greek word for is easy is χρηστὸς and means good. Our Savior only wants good for our burden. This is not to deny our present suffering which he also experienced. This is to comfort us with the eternal truth that this is not our home. We can finish well for our loved ones and for ourselves when we live Anticipating Heaven.
One author paraphrased this verse which may make it easier to understand Jesus’s promise. He said, “Get in the yoke with me. Let me disciple You. I’ll bear the weight of your burden. My yoke is good, and you will find rest and companionship in our labor together.”
As you lean into these Spiritual truths to lighten your load, our next post will give you the practical tools for your role as caregiver.
Only you know who will read this and you know who will reach out to you in their weary humanity of suffering. Lord, I pray for that person, even if it be only one who come to You and rests their weary souls upon your shoulder. Dear Lord, I am forever grateful that you came, you suffered, you died, and was resurrected on the third day. Because you conquered death, we can also come to you with the confidence that our death is just a passing moment on the journey to eternal life. We can also walk our loved one’s home with you also walking with us. We are not alone. Lord, hear our prayers.
In your precious name,