We're back with Five Minute Friday, hosted by Kate Motaung, a five-minute writing exercise centered on a keyword; today it's FEAR. (You might be interested in a previous post I did on the subject...click here to see it.)
Today we're also linked to Messy Marriage's Wedded Wednesday.
There's an old joke about a man who walked around New York City clapping two sticks together. When asked why, he said it was to keep the tigers away. When it was pointed out to him that there were no wild tigers within about 8,000 miles, he said, "Well, see how well it works!"
Fear of death is like that. As Christians, we're not supposed to be afraid of that Last Enemy. It's easy to do when you're pretty sure you won't die within the next few days, or weeks.
But when it's real, it can be quite different.
How can you deal with the fear of death in a husband or wife who's dying? What can you say, to help them across that chasm of dread, to find sure footing on the other side?
Not much, as it turns out, because this is the time to listen.
Eventually, your mate will want to talk about fear, about the uncertainty that they may be feeling. Is it all real? Is there an afterlife more real than this, that'll make Earth seem like a dream?
Listen, and be a reassuring presence. Don't interrupt. It's tempting, especially when you hear doubt, but hang in there...because usually they'll work the doubt out by themselves.
But sometimes you'll get the question..."What do you think?"
Here's where your job description of 'caregiver' really comes into play. Thius is the time to put Care first, and not worry about intellectual honesty of true witnessing.
If you're a committed atheist, and you're asked, "Is there anything after?", for Pete's sake, don't say, "No."
For one thing, you don't know that. It's what you believe; it's not a statement of fact.
For another thing, it's cruel to take away the smallest shred of hope.
If you're a devout Christian, don't start into a description of your vision of heaven, courtesy the Book of Revelation. It's not the time to start talking about Streets of Gold, or foundations of precious stones, or the Court of the Most High.
Just keep it simple, and say, "Yes."
And whatever you do, don't say something like "I envy you...soon you'll be dancing before the Lord!"
I guarantee you, someone who's dying will gladly trade places, if you say that, and let you do your dance first. No one really wants to die.
But be assured...for the vast majority of the dying, fear does pass, and is replaced by a calm acceptance, on a foundation of faith. It may not be the dancing-on-the-streets-of-gold variety.
It just says...I know we'll meet again.