Last night I was with a family that was watching their fourteen year old son and brother die. They knew that he had limited time on this planet due to some difficult heart issues that have plagued him since birth. And yet, the reality of letting go was more than they could fathom.
After a time, I began to feel a bit like an invader in the room. Of course, there were medical people coming and going. They were necessary but they also were kind of unwelcome somehow. I can’t really explain it but it sort of disturbed the moment.
I watched quietly from a corner, offering pastoral prayers here and there, trying to say the right things, going for some tylenol, and generally trying to appear useful. After a few hours, I decided I was intruding and went home.
But, what I saw while I was there was in a word… moving and gut wrenching all at the same time. The mom was sitting by her son dipping a wash cloth in cool water and placing it on her son’s head while she whispered soft words to him. She held his hand and spoke words that were only intended for the two of them. I could only describe it as a holy moment.
I can’t imagine what this family is feeling. But, the words from scripture became real, “rejoice with those who rejoice and weep with those who weep.” I can’t put myself completely in their shoes but I can hurt with them.
Maybe that is the true sense of “support.” It isn’t about saying all the right words since all those words are meaningless to the grieving family. It is simply being “present,” being quiet, and keeping watch as they hurt. That’s it.