Just a reminder, today’s article is part of Brother P.’s column, “Lessons From the Nursing Home.” Because he’s sharing stories from his workplace, a nursing home, it’s better to keep personal details vague. We hope you enjoy reading the spiritual takeaways inspired by his job as a physical therapist.
I hope you had an awesome Christmas! We laborers in the nursing home get to see the best come out of people during Christmas. Several local churches bring gifts to the residents; some sing Christmas carols; some deliver greeting cards handmade by their children; then we see more church services, more visitors etc…
But I bet you can’t guess what brings out more folks to our nursing home than even Christmas.
Give up? Believe it or not, we get a huge influx of visitors when someone is about to pass away.
Bet you can’t guess what brings more visitors than that?
How ‘bout when a young person is about to pass away? That draws out more people than anything else.
You ask, “Why would a young person be passing away in a nursing home?”
There are a ton of different reasons, but the most common one that we see in our nursing home is complications associated with a hard run-in with drugs and alcohol. Could be from a car wreck caused by a driver under the influence, a drug-induced stroke or heart attack, or from end-stage liver disease (yes, even in a person’s late 20s — it happens when you mix a lot of chemicals over a few short years).
Then, the call goes out. We notify the family that their child or grandchild is working on their last few days, and people start pouring in. We fill the room with chairs. The hallway fills with chairs. A snack and beverage cart is provided (we all know what a sad sign that courtesy cart is).
And while the family and friends all pour in and mourn, anticipating the final breaths, I continue walking residents in the halls. And while walking by the families of the young dying, I always think to myself, what if this large group of people gathered together like this, with this same outpouring of love, with this same dedication of time, with this same unity … but what if they did this five years ago? What if the group said, “NO, you aren’t going to destroy your life on our watch”? Would it change the outcome? I do not know …
We, as the collective and individual Church of Jesus Christ have a responsibility to be the ones to pour our love, give our time, be unified in the cause of helping those who are sick, who need a physician (you know the Physician I’m talking about), and we need to stand up and say “NO, not on our watch.” Before it’s too late.
This article has undergone ministry review and approval.