How do I assist a dying patient?

A friend of mine has been diagnosed of pancreatic cancer. During the process, he has found God. He is suffering a lot of pain and is undergoing the usual palliative treatment; nonetheless, he is well aware that his days will be ended soon. He is losing the fighting spirit, becoming indifferent to things and is losing inspiration from prayers. On the positive side, he has opened up himself and has confided in me of his state of mind. What shall I do? How can I help to revive his spirit?

It sounds like your friend’s spirit has already been revived, in that he is open to God. If by “fighting spirit” you mean that he appears to be losing the will to fight against his cancer, don’t worry about that. Terminally-ill patients oftentimes come to an acceptance that the disease will defeat their bodies. There is nothing wrong with that. The important thing is that your friend is apparently trying to make his peace with God.

If he is or has been Catholic, you can assist him by asking if he would like to speak with a priest and arranging for a visit if he says yes. Even if he is not Catholic, you can ask him if he would like to speak to a priest or another clergyman and arrange for a visit if he says yes. Beyond that, just keep encouraging his openness to God and keep praying for him that, if this is his time, he die in God’s friendship.

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