Sacred Ground


Sun breaking through cloudsToday a friend emailed asking for prayer for her neighbor who has been given only weeks to live since the MRI showed her cancer has spread. She has a Glioblastoma multiforme brain tumor, stage 4, the same thing that killed my husband. That took me back to my husband’s final weeks.

I believe that the weeks and days around someone’s death is sacred ground. Love is all that matters at the end of life.

Being with both my husband and my daddy when they were dying I felt God’s presence. Now I’m not religious and don’t care what your spiritual beliefs are. You may have ‘that old timey religion’ or you may believe in some spiritual energy of the universe that you call Gladys. I respect your right to choose what you believe. I’m not trying to convert ya, just telling my story.

My Daddy and my husband  died a couple years apart. With both, I felt an unusual calm the days just before they died. A sense of peace. With my husband, I knew it would be any time as he’d been ‘unresponsive’ for a couple days. With Daddy it wasn’t that clear.

Daddy had been laughing and talking with the hospice nurse when she came by for her morning visit. She decided to put in a catheter to address some issues he was having. He ate breakfast, went to sleep in his chair and slept all day. My nephew and I tried to wake him to eat lunch but he told us to stop bothering him and let him sleep. Later in the day he wasn’t responding at all to our attempts to wake him. Also, he’d been doing some odd things in his sleep such as scratching on the arm of the chair and raising his arms in the air like he was flying. We called the hospice nurse with questions so she stopped by to check on him. After checking him over and sitting with us for a while she called and arranged for the nurse-in-charge to see him the next morning. I told her that I thought he’d been saying, ‘Goodbye’ for a few days now and asked if he was dying. She said, “He may be dying but it’s not going to be tonight.” Twenty minutes after she left we called her back to pronounce him dead.

My husband had aphasia due to severe seizures a couple months before he died. He could express himself sometimes but couldn’t understand words spoken to him. It’s like hearing a foreign language. Yet he and I seemed to be able to communicate on an almost subconscious level.

With Daddy, his communication skills were fine. We talked as usual. And yet we also talked in unusual ways. He seemed to have a level of understanding that he’d never had before. I sensed that he was sort of standing in the doorway to the other side and was seeing and understanding things with an otherworldly consciousness. Do you know what I mean?

He talked privately to Mama, my sister and me–not in a formal ‘we need to talk’ way but rather he just chose moments when each of us was alone with him to ask questions and say something meaningful that sort of set things right. Mama and my sister both shared with me something he’d told them simply in a surprised, ‘do you know what he said to me?’ sort of way.

“Jesus came to see me last night!” he told me one morning. “He said everything was gonna be alright.” Then he added with a grin, “Now he didn’t say if it was gonna be on this side or the other’n.” He sounded like he was joking but the way he looked me in the eye told me he wasn’t.

“As long as He’s with you it won’t matter, will it?” I asked, wanting to calm any fears he had.

“Naw, I don’t reckon it does,” pulling out his chair and sitting down for breakfast he indicated that conversation was done.

Later in the day it hit me. He was saying, “Good bye!” This conversation plus the private ones he’d had with each of us made me think he was getting ready to go. The ‘Jesus visit’ was three days before he died.

In both cases I felt an awareness that we were on sacred ground. Looking back I’m glad I was fully present with each of them.

With Daddy I just was there. I fussed over him a little and then just stayed near him. My nephew, Daddy’s only grandchild, spent most of the day with him, too. We were just there in the room with him. Piddling with doing stuff but just there with a loving, caring presence. I believe he felt that.

With my husband, although he wasn’t responsive, I played his favorite music, crawled in the bed with him, held him close and told him I loved him.

In both situations I felt a strong calm presence. I believe the angels were there ready to take them home and bringing that peaceful presence.

One thing that I know for sure is that when someone is gone all that matters is if they knew how much you loved them. I’m glad that with Daddy and with my husband I had the understanding that we were on holy ground and I was able to stand beside them in love.

We always talk of the birth of a baby as being a miracle. I believe that death is a miracle, too. In birth we’re very happy because a new person is coming to share life with us. In death we are sad because someone we love is leaving us. I think both are sacred ground.

Does this make sense to you?

Did you feel a peaceful presence surrounding the death of your loved one?

Did you experience uncommonly meaningful conversations, see them talking to people who weren’t there or other unusual things?

Some people report photos falling off the wall, unusual sounds or odd behavior of animals around the time of someone’s death. Did you experience anything like that?

I’d love to hear your stories. Comment here or write to me personally at



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