On Dying Well

I returned home this weekend after a week by my Dad’s hospital bed and then another week taking care of him in his home alongside my siblings with the help of Hospice. In the early morning hours of February 28, he shook off earthly fetters and entered into the presence of his Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. My mom had preceded him to glory by 3 years.

So thankful for the sacred time around his deathbed as family from near and far gathered round to see him off. This included my own 5 sons who saw their ‘Opa’ as nothing less than a hero who had survived plane crashes, encounters with grizzlies and gators, and earned a reputation as one of the worlds best mountaineers.  The body that 3 years prior, at the age of 85, had beaten them to their campsite on Gideon’s first backpack trip, now lay wasted and worn.

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My boys are no strangers to seeing grandparents off to glory.  A year after we moved back from Hawaii my Mom passed suddenly and a year later Tom’s Mom “won” her battle against cancer and entered into eternal, painless rest.  Our boys were blessed to spend the week prior by her hospital bed laughing and sharing and singing just as I had with my own “Oma” when I was 12 or 13.

This time my fingers knew right where to turn in the Bible and the Psalter and the hymnal.  I wondered often how people face death without these things on hand. I thought about our modern, feel-good worship music and how little it prepares us for deathbed vigils.  I cataloged hymns in my heart aimed at helping saints die well.  Here’s one for each day I spent by my Dad’s side and the lines forever highlighted in my memory.

My Jesus, I Love Thee  “I’ll love Thee in life, I will love Thee in death, and praise Thee as long as Thou lendest me breath; and say when the death dew lies cold on my brow; “If ever I loved Thee, my Jesus, tis now.”

Jesus Lives and So Shall I  “Jesus lives, and so shall I. Death! thy sting is gone forever. He who deigned for me to die, lives, the bands of death to sever. He shall raise me from the dust: Jesus is my Hope and Trust.”

How Firm A Foundation  “When through the deep waters I call thee to go, the rivers of sorrow shall not overflow;  For I will be with thee, they troubles to bless, and sanctify to thee they deepest distress.”

Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus  “Through death into life everlasting He passed and we follow Him there;  Over us sin no more hath dominion for more than conquerors we are! Turn your eyes upon Jesus, look full in His wonderful face; and the things of earth will grow strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace.”

Softly and Tenderly Jesus is Calling  “Time is now fleeting the moments are passing, passing from you and from me; Shadows are gathering, death’s night is coming, coming for you and for me. Come home, come home, ye who are weary, come home; earnestly, tenderly, Jesus is calling, calling, O sinner, come home!”

Nearer, My God, to Thee  “There let the way appear steps unto heaven; All that thou sendest me, in mercy given; Angels to beckon me nearer, my God , to Thee, Nearer, my God, to Thee, nearer to Thee.”

O Love That Will Not Let Me Go “O Cross that lifted up my head, I dare not ask to fly from Thee; I lay in dust life’s glory dead, and from the ground there blossoms red Life that shall endless be.”

He Leadeth Me “And when my task on earth is done, when by Thy grace the victory’s won, Even death’s cold wave I will not flee, since God through Jordan leaders me.”

Be Still My Soul “Be still, my soul! the hour is hastening on when we shall be forever with the Lord, when disappointment, grief and fear are gone, sorrow forgot, love’s purest joys restored. Be still, my soul! when change and tears are past, all safe and blessed we shall meet at last.”

All the Way My Savior Leads Me “All the way my Savior leads me; O the fullness of his love! Perfect rest to me is promised in my Father’s house above; when my spirit, clothed immortal, wings its flight to realms of day, This my song thru endless ages, “Jesus led me all the way.”

Day By Day “Help me then in every tribulation so to trust Thy promises, O Lord, that I lose not faith’s sweet consolation offered me within Thy holy Word. Help me, Lord, when toil and trouble meeting, E’er to take, as from a father’s hand, one by one, the days, the moments fleeting, till I reach the promised land.”

Rock of Ages “While I draw this fleeting breath, when my eyes shall close in death, when I soar to worlds unknown, see thee on thy judgement throne, Rock of Ages, cleft for me, let me hid myself in Thee.”

Saved By Grace “Some day the silver cord will break, and I no more as now shall sing; but oh, the joy when I shall wake within the palace of the King!  And I shall see Him face to face, and tell the story –Saved by grace; and I shall see Him face to face, and tell the story –Saved by grace.”

Abide With Me “Hold Thou Thy cross before my closing eyes, shine through the gloom and point me to the skies; Heavn’s morning breaks and earth’s vain shadows flee, in life, in death, O Lord, abide with me.”

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There are dozens more that could be added to this list and if you’d like to share any that come to mind, please do so in the comments below!

14 thoughts on “On Dying Well

  1. My sin–oh, the bliss of this glorious thought
    My sin not in part, but the whole
    Is nailed to the cross and I bear it no more
    Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul

    Thank you Julie. I am so sorry for your temporary loss, but rejoice in your father’s graduation also. His faith is now sight. Praise the Lord!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Julie, Tom and my five favorite young men!!!
    We know death is as much a gift as is birth but it takes our friends and our faith to accept God’s will.
    Music has guided me through loss since my hearts seems to feel God’s guidance through those wonderful sounds. As my mother reached that day ….100 years 6 months and 14 days with only 2 days in a nursing home….we knew it was well with our souls…. yet she just lingered an hour ….seemingly waiting for permission.
    My parents were so much in love and mom missed dad each and every day. They were wonderful partners and incredible golf partners. I took her hand and told her dad was waiting on the #1 tee and had her clubs. They had a tee time soon.
    She seemed to feel that …. looked at my brother and me and …..left to join Dad! My brother was laughing and crying…..God knew she was ready!!!

    The service was a celebration….I played a melody of her favorite hymns. My brother wanted the son The Wind Beneath My Wings to be sung. I wasn’t sure I liked that but then we talked about her and dad and it all came to the way of our life guided by these two wonderful parents….. that is what they had been and would always be for us.
    As the service ended our family stood and we all sang You Are my sunshine…. the song she always sang to us
    Everyone joined in
    I miss her as well as dad everyday but when sorrow starts to set in… I hear the whack of the golf clubs and their laughter
    Yep julie!!!! Birth gives us joy and hope for days ahead
    Death gives us the time to reflect and cherish
    My love to you all
    Linda long

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Dear Friend,

    I loved reading this and also shared it with my mom and sister, we’re all praying for you. I wholeheartedly agree with you about the hymns, they have been and continue to be a source of comfort for us, along with God’s word, of course. My all time favorite hymn, found in the old Psalter, is called Nearer, Still Nearer. Last verse: Nearer, still nearer- while life shall last, till safe in glory my anchor is cast; thru endless ages, ever to be, Nearer, my Savior, still nearer to Thee, Nearer my Savior, still nearer to Thee.
    Love you!
    Andrea

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much, friend. Y’all are a great example of a hymn-singing family and I can only imagine the beautiful sound of your voices as you sang your own Dad into glory. I also love Nearer, Still Nearer. Especially the line, not sure which verse its in but I think it goes, “Give me but Jesus, my Lord crucified.” Love to you and yours.

      Liked by 1 person

    2. I just lost a long comment, but I want to try again! Thank you for this beautiful post, Julie! I read this to Burnell as we were driving south to S. California to attend memorials for two other saints who recently died.

      We sang several of the hymns and tears came to the surface as we thought of the beautiful, comforting truths. More songs came to mind, but I will mention three: “My Savior First of All,” “Jesus Lead Me All the Way,” and ”Glory for Me.” When by his grace I shall look on his face, that will be glory, be glory for me!

      I like the way you referred to the time by your daddy’s deathbed as sacred. Being in the presence of a saint who is readying to move into the presence of our Creator is truly sacred. I recall my sisters and our husbands singing around mama’s bed before she died. Precious memories.

      We loved your mama and daddy well and will miss them. We will continue to pray for your families’ comfort, and with you, we will be looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ!
      :
      With much love,
      Paula & Burnell

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Paula, please tell Burnell that I sang O Victory In Jesus to my Dad and told him that I will always remember Burnell leading that song with gusto at camp meetings and raising his fist in the air when he got to the chorus.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Oh man. Amen. I had no idea. I didn’t even know that about your mom. In my mind they were those parents of yours, the ones who probably flew to see you in Hawaii, still cheering you on and loving their grandchildren. I’m sorry to hear that you have lost them both. I haven’t had to go through that yet.
    This is a wonderful hymn list. I saved it on 3 different Pinterest boards. Day by Day is my favorite.

    Liked by 1 person

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