Ministering to those at death's door (and their families)

Discussion in 'Pastoral Ministries' started by John Ellwood Taylor, Jul 20, 2005.

  1. John Ellwood Taylor

    John Ellwood Taylor
    Expand Collapse
    New Member

    Joined:
    May 13, 2005
    Messages:
    122
    Likes Received:
    0
    I have been serving as a lay/interim pastor for a small (12 adults) rural church for the last 2+years.
    A 57 year old Christian lady who has been the catalyst for most of the current church activity is very ill with leukemia.

    She was diagnosed 18 months ago, had two successful round of chemotherapy, only to have her gall bladder act up. Just before the surgery her leukemia came back aggressively.
    The surgery was more complicated than presumed, the cancer is aggressive, and now she is deteriorating (fever, rapid heart beat, doctors not able to find the source of an infection).

    My time available for her and the family is limited (full time job in opposite direction/hospital is 55 minutes from my house/ job is 45 minutes away from house).

    I did visit her Sunday after church and she was not up for a long visit. We celebrated the Lord's Supper and I prayed before leaving.

    Last night, Tuesday, I was able to leave a meeting to be with her and the family (the doctor has suggested they come be with her). Again, with her discomfort I could only read a few verses of Scripture and offer a brief prayer with her and the family. Did spend some brief moments with her husband, and 2 of the 3 daughters.

    Sorry for the long run up: My question/ concern is , "How do I effectively minister to her and the family in these circumstances?" I want to be there for them without interfering. As well, she is obviously not up for long visits herself (can't speak much with difficulty breathing). I know our Lord is watching over her, yet as her pastor I want to be there for her/them.

    Any thoughts/suggestions are greatly appreciated.
     
  2. exscentric

    exscentric
    Expand Collapse
    Active Member

    Joined:
    May 24, 2004
    Messages:
    4,253
    Likes Received:
    16
    This, from one that has never done this before, speaking from point of view of laying in a hospital bed in great pain.

    Shut up, sit down, and be company :) I say that in kindness and from my point of view. When in pain you are rather taken up with physical and spiritual may or may not be a focus.

    I enjoyed a number of long, non-verbal visits with my father-in-law that had terminal cancer. I made it clear I was there for company and/or visiting. Often it was just quiet.

    Platitudes, and pat answers don't usually sit well with families either. Just be there for support and let them know you will do what you can.

    As to your situation, do what you can, I'd guess they will understand your limitations and appreciated all that you do. Normally if they find fault with what you don't do, they will do it no matter what you do :-(

    The Spirit is the Comforter - let him lead and you should be in good company [​IMG]
     
  3. Bro Tony

    Bro Tony
    Expand Collapse
    New Member

    Joined:
    Jan 27, 2004
    Messages:
    2,398
    Likes Received:
    0
    John,

    Bless you for your heart of a pastor. Much of what exscentric shared is right on. I have been in the ministry for nearly 24 years and that fact that you are there when you can and are ministering to the family is huge. Just be there when you can and stay sensitive to the Holy Spirit. He will give you and this special lady and her family all you need. God Bless.

    Bro Tony
     
  4. TexasSky

    TexasSky
    Expand Collapse
    Guest

    "How do I effectively minister to her and the family in these circumstances?" I want to be there for them without interfering."

    When my mother was dying of cancer people from the church would often call, via telephone, or drop cards in the mail, or even send litte "pick me ups" like flowers or candy with scripture on them. At times they did stop by the hospital too. I think Mom appreciated the phone calls and cards every bit as much as she did the hospital visits. It was knowing that people still cared, and knowing that people were praying which mattered.

    Also - there are simply times when you don't feel up to talking to the Pastor when you're ill. A phone call was wonderful in that it said, "I'm here, I'm thinking of you, if you need me, I'll BE there in person. Otherwise, what else do you need?" Sometimes the need was for someone to check on someone else and just take a load off Mom's mind.

    At my own church now - as many already know, the man I was married to for 18 years literally lost his mind following an automobile accident, and over a course of time moved in and out of our home until we finally divorced. The moment my Pastor heard that this was going on he called. The next morning someone else from the church dropped by with cookies and a hug, and a prayer. That afternoon, the Pastor's daughter called my daughter and said, "Let's get coffee." My son's Sunday School teacher showed up and said, "Hey, let's go play some basketball."

    In other words - The Pastor cared by finding the people best able to minister and asking them to do what they do best.
     
  5. John Ellwood Taylor

    John Ellwood Taylor
    Expand Collapse
    New Member

    Joined:
    May 13, 2005
    Messages:
    122
    Likes Received:
    0
    Thank you all for taking the time to share. I agree that being there is more important than speaking/reading/praying, particularly when she is in pain.
    There are many within the family and church family (including 2 sister churches) that are praying for/ caring for her and the family. I just desire to serve them the best that I can.

    I get alot of prayer time on the commute home from work (37 miles/45 minutes) and to the hospital (close to an hour the other direction). Too much time to ponder what to do/say...I'm very introspective and perhaps too self-analytical (is that redundant). I do both rejoice in the privilege God has given me to serve in this congregation and tremble that it is such a responsibility.

    Again, thanks for the tender concern and input...Soli Deo Gloria
    *did not spell check this poast ;)
     
  6. SteveD

    SteveD
    Expand Collapse
    New Member

    Joined:
    Dec 23, 2004
    Messages:
    20
    Likes Received:
    0
    I have found that as a pastor you have to move out with compassion but in conjunction with the heart of the person sick and the family who suffers in the situation. For the erson dying scriptures about heaven and salvation are appropriate. It is piercing through the shadow of death that the comfort is found. Intrude a bit without making your self a nuisance, Weep in sincerity love and embrace the suffering and at the same time pray the t the God of al comfort will comfort and strengthen them. People remember more of what you did during the suffering. Each family is different some are more emotional than others. Be sensitive and biblical.
     

Share This Page

Loading...