All his family is gathered round. He is resting in his own home, where he raised his five children, with his loving wife and best friend. Fifty-seven years of love; five children, eight grandchildren. Every one of the children and grandchildren, individually, have their own, deep relationship with him. Although he has come full circle, a life well-lived and nothing left undone, it is not easy to say goodbye.
He has passed very quickly from what appeared to be good health, to being near death. He has had time to give his final thoughts to those closest to him. He has had meaningful conversation with his priest. He knows his family is gathered near. Now he is peacefully passing from this world to the next.
It is an anxious time for families who stand, in good health, beside their declining loved one, while that person changes from someone to they talk with, to someone they talk about. When a loved one is hovering seemingly between two worlds, it is somewhat reassuring when they do not appear distressed.
It can be a tense time for people, waiting, as their own relationships can be strengthened, or tested. At a time like this we truly walk in faith, and remember the things that the loved one has taught us. Now is the time for the next generation take its place at the head of the line.
What a time it must be, though, not for the children so much as the spouse, the one who is watching their beloved, go. It is their life that changes so much, going forward, and often at a time when they themselves are most vulnerable to the effects of physical aging, loneliness, and perhaps, some fear about what will become of them, too?
You can only believe, if you do, as I do, that God is merciful and will be faithful to the most vulnerable among us.
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Jeannie Greenwald is a blogger, neighborhoods / 'go local' evangelist, hobbyist photographer, and degreed psychologist.