Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Late Night in the ICU- Death

I was going to write this the other day when I got home from work, but I ended up letting it ramble around in my head for awhile to figure out what the point of writing about it would be... I think I got a better handle on it now, so here goes...

I lost a patient one day last week. That is something that, sadly, is not a rare occurrence for us, but it was the first one I have had in awhile. It is always interesting to watch family members as they try to decipher and deal with what is happening in their world when something like this happens. There is the expected tears and anger, sometimes there is celebration and gladness. This time, though, something different happened...

As is fairly normal, the family was in our small consultation room, speaking with the Chaplin. The Chaplin soon came and grabbed me out of doing the post-mortem care and said that the family wanted to speak to me so they could get a better idea of what happened. I am more than happy to have this dreadful conversation, it often allows people to cope better and can help with grieving. After I explained the rapid decline and subsequent departure of their loved one, the patient's child said something that floored me...

To paraphrase, "At least he knows the truth about death now"

After the family left, I talked more with the Chaplin and found that this father and child had talked recently about God. Neither of them knew for sure what they believed, and had come to the agreement that they wouldn't really know until they were dead, so they decided they'd just wait til then to decide. My heart broke for this family. It made me realize how very real this type of thinking is. And I just want to say something...

I envy the fact that this patient now knows, without a hint of a doubt, the truth about God. My beliefs and faith are strongly rooted in my convictions and in my day to day relationship with Christ, but I still have days when the doubts circle from the back of my mind to front and center. But lets take that further... The only thing we will ever truly know at death is if Christianity is true.

What do I mean? If there is no God, if my living as a Christian, if all of this is a lie and none of it is real... I'll never know, because at the moment of death, there will be nothingness and I will have no realization of anything. I will just fade to black and be gone forever. I will have lived a joyous life, and lived feeling as though I had a purpose. I will head to my death feeling happy and content that I will be entering the Kingdom of Heaven... and if it does not exist, I'll never know.
If it is true though, at that moment of death, my faith shall become sight! If Christianity is true, then I will head to death with the same joy and contentment, and I will pass from this earth to an eternity with the Creator!
 If Christianity is true, those who wait until they die to make a decision will realize that it is too late. Their realization that the Bible is true will end with an eternity separated from the God that loves them. They will not get to enter the peaceful darkness of death, because if Christianity is true, there is no such thing... there is eternity spent if Heaven or Hell.

I envy those who already know the truth about the moment of death, and my heart breaks for those who have waited that long to decide what to believe. I hurt for those who head towards death with fear of the unknown and am glad that I head to mine with joy and confidence that my faith shall become sight. 

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