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Loving Someone Who is Dying

Loving Someone Who is Dying

My mother is dying from cancer. Scratch that: she’s living with cancer. She’s quick to point it out; she’s still here. And while cancer is winning the battle, my mother claims victory. The spoils?

“Apples.” But not McIntosh or Fuji. Let me explain.

It’s not easy to find the right words to say to a person nearing the end of life. But words— spoken, written down, or prayed— shoulder the power to heal, comfort, and connect. Proverbs 25:11 illustrates so eloquently:

“A word aptly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver.”

During her journey, my mother has received countless “apples.” Those eternal gifts were “aptly spoken” via cards, prayers, and conversations, each word a sweet balm.

People often struggle to express what a dying person longs to hear. What can we say to reverse the ravages of chemotherapy? What mere words could convey our sorrow? How do we express our fear and give voice to theirs?

My answer is this: embrace vulnerability and find creative ways to deliver those “apples of gold.”

Here’s how:

Read the Bible aloud. God’s Word offers comfort you sometimes cannot articulate. Try Psalm 23 for starters.

Write a letter. Don’t hold back; it might be easier to pen your feelings rather than speak them.

Use humor. Many cancer patients want to feel normal. My mother’s best friend often looked at my mom in all her baldheaded glory and said, “Well, Karen, we’re going to get out of your hair now.”

Say goodbye. This is perhaps the scariest part. I simply held my mother’s hand and told her that despite our difficult seasons, I loved her.

Devotion by Diane Meehl, excerpted with permission from Hopelifter: Creative Ways to Spread Hope When Life Hurts by Kathe Wunnenberg, copyright Zondervan, 2013.

Watch the Hopelifter Video:

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Your Turn

Do you love someone who is dying? How are you supporting them and delivering “apples of gold”? What Scriptures have you used to bring comfort to them during this difficult time? You’re invited to leave your comments below and share encouragement with others who are also experiencing the pain and impending loss of a loved one. ~ Devotionals Daily