If you have received a terminal diagnosis and the life you expected now has a timestamp, I would imagine you might consider that embracing life with the time you have left, difficult, if not impossible.
I have seen patients in precisely your position who have discovered a gentle peace as their mind, body, and soul. Like you, they have fought the good fight, and laid it all out on the field. A time has come when the quality of life in the time they have left is more important than the amount of time they have left.
However, I have also witnessed patients that struggled until the bitter end. Sometimes approaching their final breath with Terminal Restlessness. The reasons for this alternative end-of-life journey are multiple and yet, potentially avoidable. My series on Fear of Death and Dying addresses many of these reasons.
Here, we want to focus on those common denominators that can lead to a peaceful journey home, or at the very least, a more peaceful journey. These are the keys on how to have a good death.
Peace that Surpasses All Understanding
Living with the End in Mind is characterized by intentional living. This lifestyle can begin in any season of life and its fruit is most evident in the last season. However, even if you are in that season today, it is not too late to live while you have breath. So, what can you do?
- Seek Faith: Contemporary, end-of-life care by the scientific community recognizes the value of honoring the spiritual beliefs of the patient. As a clinician, I must walk that fine line of honoring belief different than mine and yet, be true to my devout faith as a Christian. I encourage patients to seek answers to the questions, “What do I believe, and why?” I pray for the power of the Holy Spirit to strengthen the faith of the believer and reveal Himself to the one who seeks truth.
In my experience, the confidence of knowing one’s destination and the continuation of the soul beyond the death of the physical is the key to the “peace of God, which transcends all understanding.” Phil 4:7
Faith is strengthened through praise and worship. Deep in your soul exists a Spirit that yearns for communion with Father God. Praise and worship in the midst of suffering and when facing death is modeled by the Apostle Paul and Silas in the following passage:
“The crowd joined in the attack against Paul and Silas, and the magistrates ordered that they be stripped and beaten with rods. And after striking them with many blows, they threw them into prison and ordered the jailer to guard them securely. On receiving this order, he placed them in the inner cell and fastened their feet in the stocks.
About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them. Suddenly a strong earthquake Shook the foundations of the prison. At once all the doors flew open and everyone’s chains came loose.” Acts 16:22-26
Praise and worship create power which invites listening and results in deliverance. Sometimes deliverance results in a miracle as seen in this scripture. Sometimes deliverance results in freedom from bondage of the physical bodies’ suffering. Praise and worship always give Glory to God and ushers in the comforting presence of the Holy Spirit.
The Bible, God’s Holy Word, is saturated with verses of comfort, verses of peace, and verses of promises for the weary. Pray for God to reveal Himself in new ways through scripture. His Loving Presence is found in the lives of those who have gone before you. This same presence is available to you.
If your terminal illness, or other factors has resulted in a faith that is shaken, a foundation that does not seem so sturdy, do not despair. Express your doubts.
God seeks real relationship, and He can handle your doubts as well as your fears. Seek Godly counsel from the Church, Pastors, Christian Counselors, family members, and close friends. Doubt that is kept secret impairs your ability to hear God at a time when you need to hear His voice the most.
Engage in prayer, meditation, or other spiritual practices that resonate with your beliefs. Seek guidance and find comfort in the spiritual community or counseling services available to you.
You only have this side of your last breath to consider what you believe and to make choices about what happens on the other side of that las breath. If you are unsure of where to begin, or how to find the peace which seems elusive to you, please comment below. I will respond.
You matter here! I don’t want anything from you. I want something for you!
“The Spirit of the LORD is upon Me, Because He has anointed Me.
To preach the gospel to the poor; He has sent Me to heal.
the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovery.
of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed;” Luke 4:18