No One Dies Alone

“I was called to the ICU and told that the condition of Ruth (not her real name), who was 74 years old and had been on life support for two weeks, was declining quickly. As her organs began to fail and doctors from multiple disciplines examined her, they conferred and agreed that everything that could be done for Ruth had been tried. In situations like this the family is told of the patient’s condition, but after weeks of searching, no family or friends could be found. Ruth was alone in this world.


As I approached Ruth’s bedside, I gently took hold of her hand and began talking to her. I let her know who I was and reassured her that she was not alone. I shared a short prayer with her and continued to talk with her. Ruth was unconscious, yet we are often told that hearing is the last one of our senses to leave us, so I wanted Ruth to hear that someone was with her.


I held her hand, as her life support was removed, the monitors were turned off and the lights were dimmed. Ruth’s nurse and I reassured Ruth that it was OK, she was not alone. As Ruth finally drew in her last breath, I noticed a small tear form in the corner of her eye and then make its way down her cheek. In that sacred moment I recognized that we were standing on holy ground, and we knew that Ruth would be alright.”

Chaplain Tricia Gilbert

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