malcolm marler

on a mission to embody grace and compassion in all relationships

A Wounded Healer

I was recently asked to visit a sweet, humble angel who was 96 years old. She knew she was dying, and her family was around her bedside.  After talking with the family for awhile, I turned toward the patient and introduced myself.  She smiled when I told her I was a chaplain and she whispered softly, “Thank you for coming,”  We talked for a few minutes and then I had a prayer.  The whole time she was just thanking God quietly.

I happened to be working a few nights later when the call came into our office that this same woman had died. I went to the room to be with her family and found her daughter, being consoled by another woman whom I did not know.  The daughter was understandably tearful and openly grieving.

Before I had a chance to re-introduce myself, the stranger hugged her close and began praying out loud.  It was an appropriate, beautiful prayer thanking God for this womans’ mother’s full, fruitful life.  When she said “Amen,” the daughter began sobbing again and I just put my hands on both women’s shoulders.  I still had not said a word.

The stranger began singing softly, “Amazing Grace,” with a beautiful clear voice.  Much to my surprise, the daughter began singing with her through her tears.  I decided to join the duo and our trio sang through three full verses.  The daughter was visibly encouraged and helped by the stranger.  I wondered, “Who is this stranger?”  A nurse, a volunteer, a minister?

Then she held the daughter’s face in her hands and said, “I know what you are going through dear woman. My mother is down the hall in one of the rooms, and her breath is getting more shallow by the hour.  Any day now she will die and I will miss my Mama so much too.”  Before I knew it, the daughter was hugging the stranger saying, “I’m so sorry your Mama is dying, I am so, so sorry.  It will be ok, I promise, it will be ok.”  It was a sacred moment.

Daughter to daughter, they comforted each other. One had just lost her mother.  And the other one was not far behind.  Both daughters became grief sisters.

I thanked both of them for letting me be a witness to the love and care expressed.

Sometimes, I just need to get out of the way.  This time I’m glad I did.

3 Comments

  1. Malcolm that is a beautiful story and wonderfully moving example of the Wounded Healer truly at work! Thank you.

  2. Beautiful story, Malcolm.

  3. How powerful, for the three of you to stand and sing together. And I am heartened personally by this story. My mother is 89 and frail–and I dread that imminent day.

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