Dying with dignity
At the end of March, I asked for your prayers for my Aunt Ellen (the sister of my mother) who was battling cancer. After a long battle, she went home to God last Friday. My family and I are very grateful for your powerful prayers. I wholeheartedly believe that they were extremely efficacious because Aunt Ellen showed extraordinary strength and courage in the last few months of her life. It was a remarkable and profound experience of someone dying with great dignity.
Aunt Ellen had a great love for Pope John Paul II. She used to go out of her way to talk with my Mom about things he had said or done and how moved she was by his life. It now appears that she was also moved by the way he died because she imitated the dignity in which he approached death. From what my Mom has told me, she didn’t complain in her final days and showed more concern for those around her than for herself. She accepted her suffering in faith and love which is a sign of great holiness.
She said on occasion that she did not live a holy life (the holy ones usually do!) and there was no real way to convince her otherwise. Well, having gone before the Judgement Seat of Christ and seen her life through God’s eyes, I think she has now been convinced otherwise. Holiness is living for others and she lived this, especially in her suffering. She suffered tremendously. We are reminded of what Mother Teresa said that the best way to imitate Christ is through suffering and that those who are closest to Jesus on Earth are those who suffer the most. There was great holiness and grace in her suffering.
That showed up the most during the final days: she died a holy death. She accepted her extreme suffering and grave situation with humility and faith. More than that, though, she expressed a deep desire to be with God. It really was an incredible thing that at the climax of her suffering, she reached out to God in an extraordinary way. When many people would have been too spent physically and personally because of all the pain, she actually showed great spiritual strength. It has been a source of tremendous inspiration to hear of the deep conversations about faith that she and my Mom had in her final days.
Again, thank you for your prayers – you see how fruitful they have been. Because of your prayers, God’s grace, and her openness to His grace, Aunt Ellen died with great dignity and faith. While it’s very difficult for our whole family, we find much consolation and comfort with the way that she left us. Because of her heroic strength and faith amid great suffering, we are very confident that she is with Almighty God and all the saints and angels in the peace and joy of His kingdom.
Eternal rest, grant unto her, O Lord. And let perpetual light shine upon her. May her soul and the souls of all the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen.