Wednesday, July 16, 2008

The 40 Day Fast: My Turn - The Face of Death

This is my day to participate in the 40 Day Fast. Be sure to check out Dan, the other blogger for today, and read his post here.

I preface my thoughts by telling you the group I talk about today is not one with which I am intimately familiar. I am passionate about and work with several groups, both local and international. Many of these are being covered by other people in the 40 Day Fast. Moreover, though, I have felt the call of God to pray for and talk about this group and their work for a little while now. It was thus a natural selection for me, despite my lack of previous involvement.

There is so much wrong with this world, a fallen and broken place. And yet, there is so much that is good, too. Jehovah created us with the intention that we know life and peace, but our sin and pride changed that for ever. Pain crept into this world, and death with it; we live hand in hand with both today. Some instances are more shocking, more disturbing to our sensibilities, while others are more commonplace. But one fact remains.

We are all mortal, and we all must face death one day.

This knowledge has placed something of an instinctive fear, or at least trepidation, in us all. Contemplating our own mortality is beyond the ability of some. Many of us find it exceedingly difficult to sit with one to whom the face of death is a constant companion - our nervousness, our uncertain words, they are something to which most all can relate. All of this in the midst of what is often the greatest trial in a person's life. In times like this I often think about the opening lines of Sara Groves' song "What Do I Know":

I have a friend who just turned eighty-eight
and she just shared with me that she's afraid of dying.
I sit here years from her experience and try to bring her comfort.
I try to bring her comfort.
But what do I know? What do I know?

That is why today I am praying for Houston Hospice. I'm sure there are Hospice organizations in your area, but I will focus on Houston Hospice, as it is local and I have sat with friends in their care before and seen firsthand their work. Their mission statement says it all: "Houston Hospice provides uncompromising, compassionate end-of-life care to patients and families in our community." And that's exactly what they do.

While so many of us stumble with words, fumble awkwardly as we edge for the exit of a terminal patient's room, Hospice is by their side. They care for the person, not the illness, and do everything they can to help them and their families face what is no longer and abstraction of the future but an imminent certainty. And I am so grateful that they are there to do what I at times cannot (or, to my shame, will not) do.

There are many ways that we can help Hospice in their work. As with any group, money helps. Donations to Houston Hospice provide for patient care and for unfunded programs and community education. Hospice also needs volunteers, both trained at the level for indirect patient assistance and for interaction with the patients. Consider if this might be something God wants for your life.

But there are other ways you can help, some very simple and some very personal. Houston Hospice maintains a patient care center for those who cannot be at home but need an alternative to a hospital room. This facility provides for the families to maintain their personal hygiene. How nice would it be to personally donate some simple toiletries so the families have one less tedious detail to consider at the hour of a loved one's death?

Another, very simple, way you can help is to search the internet. Yes, search the internet. Let me introduce you to GoodSearch.
GoodSearch: You Search...We Give!
GoodSearch is power by Yahoo! Search, so it is one of the top out there. Ads on Yahoo! and Google make billions of dollars every year, GoodSearch decided that they could take a portion of that and do something good with it. Half of their ad revenue goes to charities (over 62,000 to choose from) - that comes out to about a penny a search. Sure, a penny isn't much, but it adds up over time.

Join with me in praying for Houston Hospice, for the people they help and for the people who work with them to do so well what I fail at.

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Anonymous said...

I know the importance of hospice first hand. They quietly stepped into the final days of my grandfather's life and provided comfort and support and really made a difference in all of our lives. One of my best friends is a hospice nurse, she exhibits strength, compassion and grace that leaves me in awe.
Thanks for this post, it is a topic that we rarely consider. Today, I will be praying for you and all of these very special hospice caretakers and the people that they help.

Anonymous said...

Great post... Having lost my Grandfather a few months back I definitely see the importance of a group like this. My Grandfather's case was a little different having so many friends and family at his bed side through his last weeks in the nursing home. But while we were there, we heard the nursing home staff testify of just how many elderly silently pass away with no family and friends by their side. I can't imagine being in that situation and that's where Hospice steps in. Definitely worthy of all of our support.

erin said...

Oh wow, I didn't know about GoodSearch. I will definitely have to visit the site. Thanks for posting this.

Amy said...

Great post Euphrony, praying for you all today.

euphrony said...

Dan and Jacquelynne, thanks for you stories about Hospice touching your lives.

Thanks for the prayer, everyone.

Anonymous said...

I have personally worked with Hospice in CA many times. I used to be a nurse assistant in Convalecsent homes, and also Hospice came to my grandparents' houses when they were passing away. The people that work in Hospice do such a good job, and it is such a great organization, they are very familiar with death, and what the families and friends must be going through.

Good post Euphrony.

Anonymous said...

I am crying as I read this. My dad died last year (cancer) and the wonderful people of Hope Hospice in Fort Myers made the excruciating time surrounding his death just a little bit more livable. Thank you for this amazing post.


euphrony said...

Kristin, thanks for sharing your personal experiences with Hospice.

Jeanine, I'm sorry for your loss, but glad that you had good people there to help you all through it.

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