From Your Hands to God’s Arms — Saying Good-bye

From Your Hands to God’s Arms — Saying Good-bye

time icon 3 min read update icon Dec. 28, 2019

There comes a time to say good-bye. Letting go is one of the most powerful expressions of faith and greatest parting gifts you can offer your dying loved one. The words uttered allow you to give up control (and many hours of care giving), trusting instead in God's love. Your words also offer your loved one the comfort of knowing that you trust in God so that he can draw strength from your faith and assurance.

Saying good-bye can be painful, but the pain is intensified if the process is entered with the illusion that moments after saying good-bye, your loved one will immediately die. Sometimes, the words first spoken do invite a relaxation response, but the final breath may be hours or even days later. More often, the act of saying good-bye is repeated in part, in different forms and by different people over and over. The repetition itself reminds your loved one of God's steadfastness and the promise that God neither slumbers nor sleeps but keeps constant watch over us until the moment of death.

Helping your loved one move from your hands to God's arms might include the following:
  • Touch your loved one in a way that is comforting to your loved one (hold hands, rub her head, snuggle...). Let your physical presence be part of what nurtures a place of trust.
  • Tell your loved one you love him. If he is unable to respond then answer for him. "And I believe you love me too."
  • Tell her that you feel God's love in this place surrounding you and her. Let her know your trust is now in God. If you can express your experience of God's love/presence then describe it to her. If it feels natural to you, you could use a scriptural image (i.e. God has the hairs on your head numbered, so I believe that God knows where you are and knows your name). Tell her that God will continue to support you after she is gone and that you will make it in the future with your faith in God and your belief that she is at peace with God.
  • Forgive your loved one of any past estrangement/ behavior/words. If he is unable to respond then answer for him, "And I believe you forgive me too."
  • Give your loved one permission to let go. Again assure her that you trust the move from your loving hands into God's loving arms. Offer words such as "God is here with me and you, let's hold on to God now," "God's arms are open to you," "I am here for you, and so is God."

Remember you will likely repeat these acts in different forms many times. Hearing the words over and over creates a foundation of trust so that your loved one can feel secure in letting go. If visitors come and do not know what to say, suggest reading this page for guidance. Hearing permission from different people is reassuring to your dying loved one.

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