Thursday, January 8, 2009

The Process of Dying

2 Cor. 4:6 (MsgB)
It started when God said, "Light up the darkness!" and our lives filled up with light as we saw and understood God in the face of Christ, all bright and beautiful.

My friend, Sandy, is engaged in her final battle with the vicious opponent...CANCER! We are marking days and know it won't be long until she is welcomed into the arms of the One to Whom she surrendered her life! She is soon to experience a welcoming like she has never come close to experiencing before and we are inching closer to the gaping hole that her Home-going will leave for us!

What mixed emotions are involved in watching someone die. On one hand, the suffering you see hurts at such a level that you wish the end would quickly come! The reality of what life will look like without this one soon washes over you, though, and you find yourself wishing you could hang on forever!

I was struck yesterday as I stood at Sandy's side, stroking her hand and kissing her face, how gestures like that would have probably seemed strange if she was healthy and full of life. As I rubbed her arms, chest and nose with lotion in an attempt to help fend off the itchy, dry skin that comes with winter weather and lack of hydration, I realized that impending death makes the social boundaries we unconsciously set into place disappear and we are suddenly allowed to approach those we love in new and intimate ways!

We find ourselves sharing words of love and affirmation that we might not otherwise have felt comfortable expressing and we allow tears to flow that would normally be kept in check. However painful the process is, I am thankful for the opportunity Sandy has given us to "feel" at such a deep and intimate level.

My prayers as I reflect on what I am experiencing through Sandy's dying process are complicated and filled with many unintelligible groanings, but the one thought that keeps rising above the jumbled words and emotions is the desire to reach out in life as easily to those I love as it is possible to in death! I want to allow the reality of an expiration date in each of us to help me keep short accounts and critical words at bay! I want to touch and feel and love...just because!

Sandy's life has brought me many laughs and shared times of fun, but her dying has impacted me in ways that I may not ever fully comprehend. I am so very thankful for the opportunity she and her family have given me to wade into the churning waters with them!

1 Cor. 15:54-55 (MsgB)
Then the saying will come true:

Death swallowed by triumphant Life!
[55] Who got the last word, oh, Death?
Oh, Death, who's afraid of you now?

The reality of Christ's triumphant life has birthed triumph in the life of Sandy as well and death is merely the doorway through which she will catapult into the welcoming arms of the One Who defeated death and made eternal life our final destination! Praise be to Him!

We love you, Sandy, and while contemplating life without you makes the tears freely flow, we rejoice with joyful and expectant hope that your suffering is soon to come to an end and the greatest chapter of your life is about to be opened!

Go in peace, my friend!


  1. Thank you, precious friend. God is using Sandy...and your love for impact many lives for eternity. Thank you for sharing your heart and reminding us of the hope we have because of Jesus. My love and prayers are with you, dear one.

  2. beautifully said...God's words through you...thanks for sharing your heart and tears..what a blessing you have been to Sandy's life as well..

  3. Oh Barb, thank you for sharing. I am crying with you as I read your post today. I have not been through the death of a close friend...but I can only imagine the pain that Sandy's loved ones are facing. The things God is showing you through this are so true...I love what you shared about how strange the gestures would have been had she not been dying. So true, so sad at the same time. Thanks for sharing...


  4. Barb I so love your heart and how you put it into words here! Your thoughts on how much easier it is to come close to those in death than in life have touched me in a way I can't even put into words. So profound! Praying for you friend as you love on Sandy and her family and that Papa will be closer to you than ever as you walk her to the end of her journey here on this earth!

  5. "but the one thought that keeps rising above the jumbled words and emotions is the desire to reach out in life as easily to those I love as it is possible to in death!"

    Powerful thought, Barb. Thank you for sharing your heart and walk with Sandy with us. I know when my dad died a lot was said from him and me that should have been said years before. I'm just glad I got the opportunity to have that "good-bye" time with him. Many times we don't get that.

    Love you friend! Praying.

  6. Barb you are such a pillar in Sandy's Life. Thank you for being a faithful light to Him. You and Sandy crossed life paths because of Him and you did exactly what He wanted you to do. Thanks for reminding me that God's purpose is behind the small things of putting people together on a sports team :-) Thanks for using your gift of words to uplift my eyes to Him in all things.
    Love ya!

  7. Barb-

    I am overwhelmed with exmotion as I read this powerful outlook on managing the dying process. Sandy is blessed as I am to have you in her life. May you find peace as you support your dear friend. All my love, Laurie

  8. Praying for you, dear Barb. I'm pondering all that you shared in this post and am thanking God for your influence on so many...especially your dear Sandy right now.
    Sweet blessings to you.

  9. Barb,
    How odd that you and I were thinking the exact same thing. As I kissed her and caressed her face as to memorize every detail and I realized that death does break down the barriers. I know that Sandy knew that I looked up to her and thought she was a very strong, beautiful woman full of grace yet I never threw my arms around her as a child would a friend to allow her to actually feel that. The comfort of knowing that Sandy is rejoicing and is happy beyond what this world can give is overwhelming!
    Love to you! Michelle Robertson