Friday, July 24, 2009


Posted by Leona Bergstrom

I do not know exactly what takes place when someone dies. I do know the moments surrounding a last breath are profoundly sacred.

A couple of weeks ago I flew to Denver to be near my Aunt Velma who was in hospice care. I wanted to say good bye but I wasn’t sure I would make it there before she died. Rather than attend church on Sunday morning, I opted for the earliest flight out. My sister and I arrived before noon and were warmly and emotionally greeted by my cousin, Aunt Velma’s only son. “She waited for you,” he said as he embraced me. I didn’t understand at the time, but later learned that my aunt had been near death when someone told her I was coming to be with her. She had mysteriously “rallied,” and although she was apparently not conscious, she relaxed and continued steady, albeit shallow, breathing.

I entered her room and knelt at her side. The moments that followed will forever change my life. I spoke into her ear, which physically was nearly deaf but spiritually quite attuned to what I had to tell her. I was able to thank her for the abundant love she had shown me all of my life. I reminded her of precious secrets we had shared. I told her I loved her and I would miss her presence in my life. She took her last breath just after 2 pm. Her life on earth was completed. My family had shared memories around her bedside. We had laughed and cried. She knew we loved her. She knew all of us were there.

And then somehow true transformation took place. Her worn little body stayed behind, but her spunky, God-loving spirit went home.
Think of stepping on shore
And finding it Heaven!
Of taking hold of a hand
And finding it God's Hand!
Of breathing a new air
And finding it celestial air!
Of feeling invigorated
And finding it immortality!
Of passing from storm and tempest
To an unbroken calm;
Of waking up and finding
Yourself HOME!
---Robert E. Selle

(Photo by young_einstein, shared via Flickr)
See also our prior post on a way of looking at death here.


Karla said...

Working in the hospital I have had many opportunities to observe/participate/share with families during times such as this and it always amazes me when one will hold on to be able to say a last goodbye, or let go during the brief time that no family was in the room.

I'm glad you were able to be there.

Peggy Forster said...

Oh, that was such a special thing to tell. Where do you get your wisdom? I pray I will have half of it when a time like that comes for me to be there for someone. Thanks for sharing.