"Now Israel's eyes were failing because of old age, and he could hardly see. So Joseph brought his sons close to him, and his father kissed them and embraced them. Israel said to Joseph, "I never expected to see your face again, and now God has allowed me to see your children too." Then Joseph removed them from Israel's knees and bowed down with his face to the ground. Then Jacob called for his sons and said, "Gather around so I can tell you what will happen to you in days to come." When Jacob had finished [pronouncing blessings over] his sons, he drew his feet up into the bed, breathed his last and was gathered to his people. Joseph threw himself upon his father and wept over him and kissed him." - Genesis 48:10-12; 49:1,33; 50:1
What a life Jacob lived! So often as a chaplain we would share how a person died with one another and refer to the experience as someone who "died well." The scenario was perfect. Surrounded by family, prayers concluded, blessings given, and Joseph's father, after many years, simply stretches out in bed, takes his last breath and dies.
The act of dying well is something we all hope for. Let's face it, we all have thought of our own death at least once in our life. It's what we do. We are human and live in a conditional period of time, not knowing the day we enter, or the day we leave.
The birth part is for the most part a similar story, but the process of dying is one that is mysterious and can often lead to anxiety for someone who dwells upon the idea.
I have a dear friend facing a serious disease. She shared that because of her faith she is not afraid of dying, it is the process to get there.
I don't think any of us truly embrace pain. So much of the time we pray that we simply "fall asleep and wake up in heaven."
UNLESS, you are like my grandfather who often would say that he wanted to be awake when he died, so that he "didn't miss a thing!"
While the experience will be different for each of us, the presence of God, and the sharing of the journey with God, is one that I know, will bring comfort with each step.
In the meantime, each day is part of that journey. God is present, helping us, and offering encouragement and support. Just as important as dying well, is embracing that same attitude with life itself. The embrace of God reminds us that God will be with us "always... even unto the ends of the earth."
Have a wonderful day, and Stay in God's grip!
G. Todd Williams (c) 2017
Rev. G. Todd Williams lives in the Houston metro area and is a Hospice Chaplain and ordained Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) pastor.