I learned early on in my hospice career that the Holy Spirit is present to all people as they enter heaven.
It has been a running joke for years between me and my husband that if he sees me coming toward him with my hands raised, he will run like crazy.
He says it’s because I have told him often of placing my hands on a terminally ill patient as they are declining and if God is calling them home, they become immediately peaceful and often die within a few minutes.
I learned early on in my hospice career that the Holy Spirit, the very Spirit that dwells in all of us, is present to all people as they leave this Earth and enter the reward promised to them through the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Nurses, social workers, volunteers, doctors and nursing assistants caring for those who are about to die know this well. In the hospice center where I worked, it is the practice to spread the word about patients about to enter heaven and to pass by their rooms and pray to the Holy Spirit for their peaceful and comforted death.
On one occasion, I was called to visit a patient at home who had just been admitted into the hospice program. His wife rushed past me without a word when I arrived at their apartment, to go to temple to prepare his services. After a few moments I found Ira, a tall, thin, unresponsive man resting quietly in his bed. Looking about the very large room, I realized Ira had played a prominent role in the early motion picture business; his walls were covered with accolades and awards. I was praying the entire time that the Holy Spirit would enlighten me so as to bring comfort and peace to this very weak and declining man, about whom I knew nothing.
Holding his hand gently, I reviewed everything in site, all without any response from Ira at all. When I realized his breathing and color were changing, I began to speak to him about the fact that God was getting ready to take him home and was preparing his place in heaven. I spoke of his Jewish ancestry and of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob of the Old Testament. “Their father is your father and mine as well,” I said to him. “I know my God by the name of Jesus; he is the one our heavenly father sent to bring us safely home to him.” He did not move.
When I heard the door open, I told Ira his wife was back now and that I would pray for him until I heard he was safely home with God. This man who had not responded the entire time squeezed my hand tightly as I tried to get up to leave. Sitting back down on his bed, I saw the tears streaming down his face. He died peacefully before I arrived at my office, ten minutes away. The Holy Spirit was present to Ira the entire time, I am more than sure. The peace he had defies all human understanding—now who told us that?