Being present with the dying

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Waiting upon each laboured breath
Is far greater than simply duty
For there is a mysterious beauty 
Within each well-prepared death

There’s few more precious times than this
Now that life’s pains are put to rest
Acknowledging that death is best
Then sharing one departing kiss

‘Neath fading smile and closing eyes,
And steady grasping hand;
Heart and soul seem to understand
That they’ll live on when this frail body dies.

Fr Steve Sheridan

Dying

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We should not be afraid of dying, but modern society sees this as a failure. This is a subject I have been banging on about for 25+ years.

The article on the right was written in 1990 by a Staff Nurse in a Coronary Care Unit (with hair, note!) who felt that we applied the indigities of resuscitation far too indiscriminately. As one who jumped on chests on a daily basis, I saw first hand where it worked and its importance. I was also very aware of its abuses because we were too reticent to tell people that their loved ones were dying and that they should not be afraid.

This video, a short think-piece by a specialist in care for the dying (thanatology) , I feel, should be more widely seen as it explains rather beautifully the gentle process of dying which is natural. I would want also to bring the spiritual dimension into this, and speak of the need for words of comfort, reassurance, of making peace and receiving absolution, and where appropriate the sacraments.

The Oil of Healing might heal us to a good death – a Euthanasia – which is the perfect end. That word has come to mean something very different, very clinical; but I ask you: would we not all want a good death? A euthanasia?

Specialists can ensure that death is peaceful, pain-free and stress-free. But you have to let them do their work. “Do all you can” is usually more for our benefit as the ones who remain behind, unable to grasp the reality that death will ultimately visit us all.

It isn’t true that “Death is nothing at all”, for the bereavement it leaves behind can be devastating, but we should be assured that death is a part of life, an inescapable part of reality and a frame around which our lives have meaning and context. What we do on this earth matters: the people we love, the laughter we share, the lives we impact. But it will not last for ever, and there is a time for that to end, and time for subsequent generations to take up the baton. Learning to live with and beyond the loss of someone we love does not mean you have failed them, but that we adjust to that loss .

“Then”, as S. Paul reminds us, “we will be with the Lord forever. Therefore encourage one another with these words” (1 Thess 4:17-18)

[video width=”1280″ height=”720″ mp4=”http://www.frsimon.uk/wp-content/uploads/2018/04/BBC-Dr.-Kathryn-Mannix-explains-why-we-should-all-talk…mp4″[/video

Funeral Wishes Plan

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When families are in the midst of grieving a loved one’s death, it is often difficult to make decisions regarding funeral arrangements. In addition to working out practical matters, the family usually wishes that they knew the desires of the one who died.

Take this opportunity to make plans for your funeral service. It is not morbid, but gives you an opportunity to express your faith at a time when your relatives need your help. You may wish to complete this form on your own or together with your spouse or a relative or friend. After you have completed it, make copies and give them to a few different people for safekeeping as well as returning a copy for the Parish Clergy. In making these decisions now, you will be giving a gift to those who will grieve after your death.

Download here

[gview file=”http://www.frsimon.uk/wp-content/uploads/2017/11/Funeral-Plan.doc”

Funeral Scripture: 1 Corinthians 15

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A reading from the first letter of Saint Paul to the People of Corinth when he was asked questions about death and the resurrection of the body.

Someone may ask, ‘How are the dead raised? With what kind of body do they come?’ How Foolish! What you sow does not come to life unless it dies. And as for what you sow, you do not sow the body that is to be, but a bare seed, perhaps of wheat or of some other grain. But God gives it a body as he has chosen, and to each kind of seed its own body.

So it is with the resurrection of the dead: What is sown is perishable, what is raised is imperishable. It is sown in dishonour, it is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness, it is raised in power. It is sown a physical body, it is raised a spiritual body.

For this perishable body must put on imperishability, and this mortal body must put on immortality. And when this happens, then the saying that is written will be fulfilled:

‘Death has been swallowed up in victory.’
‘Where, O death, is your victory?
Where, O death, is your sting?’

Yes, thanks be to God! He gives us the victory over death through our Lord Jesus Christ

This is the word of the Lord
Thanks be to God

Funeral Scripture: 1 Thessalonians 4: 13-18

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A reading from the letter of Saint Paul to the people of Thessalonika

My dear friends, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you do not grieve like the rest, who have no hope.

We believe that Jesus died and rose again, and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him.

According to the Lord’s word, we tell you that we who are still alive, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep.

For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air.

And so we will be with the Lord forever.

Therefore encourage one another with these words.

This is the word of the Lord
Thanks be to God

Funeral Scripture: John 14:1-6

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A reading from the Gospel of John

Jesus said to his disciples: `Do not let your hearts be troubled. Believe in God, believe also in me.
In my Father’s house there are many dwelling-places. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you?
And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, so that where I am, there you may be also. And you know the way to the place where I am going.’

Thomas said to him, `Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?’

Jesus said to him, `I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me’.

This is the word of the Lord
Thanks be to God

I am standing upon that foreshore

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I am standing upon that foreshore. A ship at my side spreads her white sails to the morning breeze and starts for the blue ocean. She is an object of beauty and strength and I stand and watch her until at length she hangs like a speck of white cloud just where the sea and sky come down to mingle with each other.

Then someone at my side says, ‘There! She’s gone!’ ‘Gone where?’ ‘Gone from my sight, that’s all.’

She is just as large in mast and spar and hull as ever she was when she left my side; just as able to bear her load of living freight to the place of her destination. Her diminished size is in me, not in her.

And just at that moment when someone at my side says, ‘There! She’s gone!’ there are other eyes watching her coming and other voices ready to take up the glad shout, ‘Here she comes!’ And that is dying.

Victor Hugo (a passage often attributed to Bishop Brent)

Where do they go?

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Where do they go to, the people who leave?
Are they around us, in the cool evening breeze?
Do they still hear us, and watch us each day?
I’d like you to think of them with us that way.

Where do they go to, when no longer here?
I think that they stay with us, calming our fear
Loving us always, holding our hands
Walking beside us, on grass or on sand.

Where do they go to, well it’s my belief
They watch us and help us to cope with our grief
They comfort and stay with us, through each of our days
Guiding us always through life’s mortal maze.