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  • Writer's pictureDr. Jacqueline M. Pressey

Entry: #30: Don’t Cry for ME!

Updated: Jun 20, 2023

During my years serving as a hospital chaplain, I’ve been asked many questions from patients, their families, staff and even doctors. When doctors have asked me questions, most times they tend to be very respectful, polite, & reverent of my pastoral presence with a soft and quiet professional demeanor. One evening after finishing up with a patient visit, a doctor stopped me as I was leaving a patient’s room, and asked me if he could ask me a question? Of course, I said, yes. He followed me from the patient’s room into a private area on the nurses unit hallway. His story and question surprised me, but I could tell that it really bothered him. He wanted clarity and understanding of what had happened several years ago with a dying patient that he cared very much for. He said that he had been her physician for this elderly Caucasian woman in her 80’s for many years. He said he was with her when she peacefully, passed away.

He was standing by her bedside holding her hand, and she turned and looked at him and stated, “don’t cry for me,” and smiled at him. What happened next, scared him and he stepped away from her bed. He described that he saw a white cloudy mist rise off of her body as she took her last breath. He said the white mist, came from her body and covered her entirely as she took her last breath and then disappeared like a vapor in the room. It shocked him, so he stepped back to watch it, in amazement. He stated that she was a very spiritual person and he very much believed in God. He also stated that the patient was a devoted Christian woman. Now his question that he asked me was, “what was the white cloudy light mist that he saw coming off her body?” He stated to me, “that he believed that he saw her spirit leave out of her body. He wanted to know if he was correct. The following bible scripture states, “the spirit shall return unto God...":

Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was: and the spirit shall return unto God who gave it. (Ecclesiastes 12:7, KJV)

Reflection/ Lesson Learned:

Dying is a divine natural life process that we all will experience during our lifetime. Although, many tend not to like to discuss death, but it’s necessary because it is a part of life, loving, & living. There are some truly interesting facts that occur when the process of dying starts prior to the last breath. From the time the doctor’s starts and activates the hospital dying protocol, it can take anywhere from hours to several days for a patient to transition and/or take their last breath. The hospital where I served as a hospital chaplain, it’s called, comfort care,” when we are notified. Dr. Peter Fenwick, (2004) states several scholarly documented researched happenings that have been reported during a loved one’s death in an article entitled, “Dying: a spiritual experience as shown by Near Death Experiences and Deathbed Visions.” Here are just a few of his impactful points that Fenwick (2004) stated:

  • The dying loved one has visited several family members at the hour of their recorded death time.

  • Just prior to death caregivers and loved ones have described, “a radiant white light, which envelops the dying person and for some, it may spread throughout the room. Of which some loved one’s may say they want to go into the light, because of the intense love & beauty.

  • The dying loved ones have described the surrounding intense light as full of love.

  • The dying loved one states that they can move around the room in and outside of their body.

  • Others have witnessed and reported that with fixed eyes in front of them, their dying loved one gives a smile of recognition which spreads slowly over their loved one’s face and then they relax and peacefully die.

As I prepared to answer the doctor’s question, I paused to have a quiet moment of silent prayer. Although, I wanted to scream, "YES," & praise God for the miracle that he was privileged to witness. I waited silently for the Lord’s response to the question, the way He wanted me to respond. As I stood there, I realized that this was an important moment to put him at peace. As we all know doctor’s have been trained about the body functions and the chemistry aspect that takes place in the body when someone is dying. But this doctor was asking me about the spiritual side of someone dying. So, I gave him my spiritual care answer, YES, it was her spirit leaving her body, of which you were privileged to witness. I saw his face relax with a smile of relief. He told me, I knew it, and then he said thank you, and he left. I watched as he walked away and I prayed for him. I’m also grateful that I was given the opportunity to confirm to him what he felt and believed. It was a precious moment that the Lord entrusted me with.

Now I know my hospital fellow chaplains know how moments like this one felt to me. It was a sincere joy and it gave me some pep in my steps as I continued my clinical patient consult visits that day. Honestly, there are times when what we do can be tough, in spite of that, we answered the call to serve the sick, injured, & dying. We are carriers of God’s comforting presence in spite of everything that goes along with suffering, including our own personal suffering that we sometimes silently endure ourselves, yet we do it again, and again. In closing I still carry and will never forget the many moments that I have been privileged to be a part of and have witnessed as I have served over the years. Many miracles, signs, & wonders have left me speechless for days, yet I feel so honored to carry the memories of the Lord’s handy work. For His Glory and His works sake, I have shared over the past few years of many of my accounts of what I have experienced as a hospital chaplain in the Diary of a Hospital Chaplain’s Blogs & soon to be published book to inspire others and to share some of the powerful moments that have matured me in the gift of ministry and hospital chaplaincy . It has forever changed me as I continue to grow in lifelong servant leadership. My faith tradition is an Apostolic Christian, but know matter what our faith traditions are we have one thing in common, and that is a love for serving others who are suffering. That brings our faith traditions in unity & harmony with one another. Remember each one serves one to fulfil our servant’s call. I am because of Him and His Kingdom’s assignment work’s sake on my LIFE!


For the sake of the Chaplain’s Calling, A facilitator of His Inspiration for the Soul!

Dr. Jacqueline M. Pressey,

Hospital Chaplain, Evangelist, & Inspirational Author

Reference

Fenwick, P. (2004). Dying: a spiritual experience as shown by Near Death Experiences and Deathbed Visions. Retrieved June 13, 2023 from https://www.rcpsych.ac.uk/docs/default-source/members/sigs/spirituality- spsig/spirituality-special-interest-group-publications-pfenwickneardeath.pdf? sfvrsn=686898bc_2


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