St. Bartholomew's Episcopal Church


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What a Gift! (from Fr. Mark)

Posted by The Rev. Mark McKone-Sweet on with 1 Comments

Journal entry from a son sitting at his mother’s bedside …

What a gift she has given you!

When my father died suddenly in 2006, we learned the hard way how difficult it is for any surviving spouse, children, family, and others when the “their house is not in order.” Dad was not interested in estate planning, not interested in end-of-life planning, not interested in healthcare proxies, etc. It was expensive and very exhausting to navigate the legal, IRS, medical, and financial matters. Even more challenging to manage family relations and dynamics.

Sadly, I see this play out over and over again in my pastoral work. But, it does not need to be that way. This what my mother has taught me. When the crisis occurs, the stress in natural. The invitation to reduce the stress and give more room for relationships to be honored and celebrated.

When we toured a residential hospice house today, the social worker learned that my mother had mapped this all out, years ago. Mom had her estate in good order, financial accounts with our names on them, all debts paid. Mom has a fresh will, trust(s), living will, healthcare proxy and more, all documented, copied, and sent to each son. She verbally told us her intent, at least once a year. She refreshed everything before her surgery in March. And so, we knew that hospice would be the most likely choice for mom if she was diagnosed with cancer. And, she knew we would be visiting the hospice house(s) before it was needed.

Linda, the hospice manager, smiled at us, and said: “Your mom has given you boys a great gift.”

Later today, while meeting with the medical team, mom repeated her wishes and we all confirmed we support her. The medical team knew we had been talking/anticipating this moment for years. It gave us peace of mind when our hearts were hurting. It bound three sons, with our different personalities, faiths, and levels of comfort with end-of-life decision making. Mom’s love bound us together in her time of need. And in doing so, she kept on being our mom - lowering our stress and helping speak and listen to each other.

The doctor smiled, and said to us, “your mother has given you all a great gift.”

My mother has been able to teach us about love in this and the next. Love that transcends the pain, anxiety, fears, and needs of each person. That kind of love is deep, selfless, and life-giving.

If your estate in order? Do your heirs and family have a copy?

Do you have healthcare proxies and medical directives? Do your heirs, family, and best friends have a copy? Does your doctor have a copy?

As I sit at my mother’s bedside today, my heart is heavy with love. Because her abiding love permeates everything discussion, decision, heart, and person in her room - I am peace. What a gift!

Like God, will you give the gift of love and peace to others? What an amazing gift to give another - by anticipating and sharing your wishes - so that they will have a baseline for how to love you and each other in return.

We are Easter people, we know the joy of new life that comes with death. What an amazing gift from others. It’s healing. It’s restorative. It’s all about your power and control to prepare and share. God so loved the world. You can give a loving gift with a few hours of paperwork and sharing.

Our pastoral care team is ready to help you.


Amy T May 7, 2018 5:20am

Thank you Rev Mark for sharing these thoughts. Theyre very helpful.
I pray for your mother and will always remember her kind nature.