Thursday, 19 February 2009

Peace at the Heath

Yesterday evening I answered a call for a priest to go to the Heath Hospital, where a gentleman had died only 24 hours after being admitted. I never cease to be overawed by the whole question of death. It is such a privilege to be admitted into the tight family circle of people - people that you have never met before - at this sacred time. I made my way through what are usually bustling corridors of the hospital, now quiet in the late evening. The man's wife was there and about 6 or 7 of the relatives. When the doctor had finished his part, most of the family came in with me for the Prayers After Death. As I continued, some gently sobbed in the light of one lamp left on, and then I always add a spontaneous prayer, inviting the family to link hands around the bed of their loved one, leading to the Our Father together.

After a little while, and a word with each individual, plus advice for what they have to do next, I quietly slipped away. I made my way back down through the silence and so off home. Up there on the ward one family will never be the same. One daughter said through her tears "Nothing prepares you for this" - and she is right. But I sensed great love among the family, and a deep faith too. Things will never be the same for them, but with the help of God they can move on together to a new place. Eternal rest grant to Felix, Lord.

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