Psalm 23:4 – Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.
This is a very, very powerful verse, not only for the ones "walking in the shadow" but for those who are walking with them.
Several times through the years before my parents' passing, I was called to their bedside as they weren't expected to "make it". So too, with friends who were passing. I have been with people before, and just after they had passed, or just after someone close to them had passed. I have never had the honour of being there at the exact moment.
The family of a dear friend of mine kept a pretty steady vigil for months, especially her sister, yet my friend chose to leave in the few minutes it took her sister to visit the washroom. This happens often, and the ones lift behind are sometimes consumed with guilt and a whole plethora of "if only" feelings. They sometimes feel that they abandoned their loved ones, left them "to die alone". But did they?
Back in the early eighties I was privileged to be able to attend a seminar with the world renowned Dr. Elizabeth Kubler-Ross, wherein she spoke of this very subject. She said that those closest to us, especially our children, may choose to leave when we have stepped out of the room, sparing us the grief of seeing them take their last breath. It is their gift to us, and that they definitely are not alone.
Perhaps the word shadow is the important word. Sometimes they need only to have us walk with them "through the valley of the shadow", but it is their wish to complete the journey not alone, but with whatever presence they believe makes that transition with them.
Prayer: Our Father in Heaven, we thank you for those times when we are called to "walk through the shadow" with our family and friends. May we all, Lord, "fear no evil for thou art with us"… each and every one of us. Help us to remember that we are not alone. In Jesus' name we pray. Amen.