The fear of death comes in many forms. Consider what Juan, Marie, Henry, J.B. and Amos faced in their illnesses.
Each breath Juan drew was from a breathing machine. His eyes were wide with fear. The nurse had called the chaplain to the critical care unit saying, “My patient is afraid of dying. Can you help him?” Slowly, with tremendous effort, the critically ill Veteran wrote on a note pad, “I am going to hell because of what I did.”
In another hospital room, a chaplain spoke with an older woman Veteran. Marie had just been told that her illness would end her life in three to Six months. Tears streamed down her red flushed cheeks as she said, “I feel so bad. I will need someone to do everything, and I mean everything, for me. I will be worthless to my family. I used to take care of them, now I will have to depend totally on them.”
On the same day, in a large city, a doctor came out of a patient’s room and walked directly to the chaplain, who had just come to the hospice unit. “Henry is dying. His lifestyle has alienated him from his family. He has been homeless for years. Henry doesn’t have any idea of where his wife or children are. Too many years of addiction. And now he is afraid of dying alone. Would you talk to him, Chaplain?”
That evening a Veterans’ hospital called a local pastor at home. Her parishioner had been severely injured in a motorcycle accident. J.B. had been stabilized in a county hospital emergency room and transferred to the Veterans’ hospital. He had awakened in severe pain. “Pastor, I am scared, really scared. This pain is terrible. I was trying to kill myself on my bike and now I have made things worse. I still wish I could die. I can’t do anything right. I can’t even kill myself,” J. B. spoke in short phrases, gasping. “Now I am afraid of living in more pain until I die.”
Finally, in the early morning hours, in a Veterans’ state facility, a patient looked into his nurse’s face as she held his hand. Amos was close to death. His family was around him. He whispered, “I am blessed. It’s O.K. I will be O.K.,” and closed his eyes.
The fear of death comes in many forms:
- Fear of what comes after death
- Fear of being a burden
- Fear of dying alone
- Fear of dying in pain
Where is there hope? Which Scriptures speak to each of these concerns?