Celebrating a Loved One’s Life

One morning in February, I was paged to come to the ER. Upon my arrival, the staff was working on an elderly woman trying to revive her. I met some family members and escorted them to the family waiting room. It was there that I got to know about the mother and grandmother in the trauma bay fighting for her life. I asked one of the daughters if I could pray, and we did. After more conversation with the family, I learned that the mother was Catholic. I offered to call a priest for Anointing of the Sick and the family said they would like to have that done for her.

The priest came and did anoint her, but left shortly afterwards. I stayed with the family and talked and listened to stories about their loved one. More family members arrived as the situation did not look like it would have a good outcome.

As I made my exit, the family thanked me for being there with them during such a difficult time. She died the next day.

About a week later, I received a thank you card in the mail. I had given them one of my business cards and told them to call me if they needed further help with anything. Several family members had signed it and I thought that was so nice. It was a good feeling knowing that I has been there for someone in need

Around early March, the one daughter I had made a connection with came by my office and gave me a card inviting me to a memorial service they were having for their mother in May. We talked a while and I told her I would gladly come. When I looked at my calendar, I saw that it was on a Friday that we generally have our monthly staff meeting at 12:00. The service was to begin at 11:00. I thought I could go to the service and make it to the meeting a little late. However, I found out from talking with daughter about a week before the service that she wanted me to conduct the grave-side service. She explained that their mother was Catholic but they thought a priest would be too busy to accommodate them, so she asked if I could do it. They were having a big family luncheon afterwards at a local restaurant and invited me to attend.

I was pleasantly surprised and honored at the same time. As God would have it, our meeting was cancelled that Friday. I met the family at the cemetery and officiated the service as they requested.

I felt blessed to be a part of this family’s celebration of life for their loved one. To think that it all began with my answering a page to the ER, makes my “work” all the more satisfying.

Chaplain Lutalo Kyles
Southwest General Medical Center

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