In Luke’s Gospel, Jesus said, “And ought not this woman, a daughter of Abraham whom Satan bound for eighteen long years, be set free from this bondage on the Sabbath day?” (Luke 13:16)
When I was a hospice chaplain . . .
Jesus broke the rule of not working on the Sabbath—he healed!—and was condemned by the authorities. Worse, he healed a woman. Worse yet, the incident occurred in a synagogue. While I am a Christian, I don’t think the implications of this passage are bound only within Christianity or Judaism. Whether someone is Hindu, agnostic, or spends weekends worshipping a three iron while strolling along his or her favorite golf course, Jesus’ statement resonated with universal truth.
I’ve seen it in hospice. One of the suggestions I make to families is to let their loved one know—when it seems appropriate—that it will be all right for him or her to die.
A person of faith, with tears and anguish, invites the dying loved one to trust that death is not the end. Let go, return fully to God, Allah, the Higher Authority. A person without faith, also with tears and anguish, invites the dying loved one to trust that death will not reduce the meaning of their life or cause them to be forgotten by the living. Let go, let suffering end.
One of my patients was never told by his wife that it was all right for him to die. It was too hard for her and, in part, I understood. His nurse and I wondered if that was why he lingered longer than we expected. And we wondered if he knew his lovely bride of over sixty years was out of the room, briefly gone to fix dinner for herself, when he finally died. I think he knew. Read More →by