At Times of Loss

The Guideposts executive editor shares how you can pray for someone who has already passed away.

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How do you pray for someone who’s gone? 

I visited Frank in the hospital on Wednesday where he was being treated for cancer and it was clear that he was in a lot of pain. Every 15 minutes he could push a button and get a dose of whatever was in the IV bag, but from the way he winced, I knew the drugs were hardly strong enough. “I’m going to Calvary next,” he said, and I tried to hide the sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach. Calvary is hospice care. 

Frank was so young, not even 40, and it didn’t seem fair. He was really bright and even with doses of a strong painkiller running through his system, his quick intellect was evident as we discussed Hilary Mantel’s brilliant novel of Thomas Cromwell. He had another hundred pages of it to go.

I was headed out to California, visiting my son at the Claremont colleges where Frank was also a student not so many years ago. “I’m going to Calvary,” he said again, “and then I’m going home.”

He didn’t make it home. He died yesterday, and now as I’m reeling from the news, I’m wondering how to fulfill the last promise I made to Frank. “We’ll be praying for you,” I said. 

“I appreciate that,” he said.

My prayers were going to be for some miracle or at least a release from the dreadful pain. Now my prayers are, I admit, full of anger and bewilderment. Why, God, why? I will pray for peace and pray for his wife Rosie and pray that he got to the end of the book he was reading and pray for some understanding of why some of us die so young. And selfishly I will pray for my own sorrow.

I will keep my promise because God asked us to be a praying people, but it’s a harder promise than I ever imagined it would be.

Rick Hamlin is the executive editor at GUIDEPOSTS.

Tags: Faith,Prayer
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