Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Living and Dying

He is dying.
He looks healthy and well – but after blood tests, scans, a biopsy, and surgical investigation, the doctors have told him that cancer has invaded his body to such an extent that there is nothing they can do. So he and I sat one afternoon last week and talked about his future. Then he summoned his family and friends to a meeting on Monday evening.

And about 25 people gathered in his garage. This is the place he plays darts, and drinks beer, and generally hangs out with his friends. And we talked together about life, and death, and about dying well. He told them about his illness. Then he asked his family and friends not to feel sorry for him, or to begin treating him differently. I invited them to help him die well – to go out with “all flags flying.” I suggested that they get hold of the movie “The Bucket List” and watch it. And I suggested that he draw up his own list of things he wants to do before he dies.

I facilitated a moment when his friends and family each expressed a wish for his life. Amongst these were wishes for strength and courage and joy. They also suggested that he needs to go fishing, hang out with his grandson, and let go of bitternesses and hurts from the past. We sang some hymns, I read Psalm 23, and we prayed for him.

Then we had tea together. His friends teased him that he was hiding the “good stuff” because the minister was present, and he promised to leave a will where he allocated all his financial debt amongst his children.

When I left his home I knew that he would die well.


Anonymous said...


Deeply moving.

Shepherding the living knowing that this is a shadow of what is to come is an awesome task.

Thanks for sharing.


Delme Linscott said...

Awesome stuff Pete. This is real ministry. We can learn from you, my friend.
You are a great mentor, even though you are sometimes full of nonsense.

Steve Hayes said...