Death Notification

One of the hardest but yet most blessed roles of the priest is to be there when death comes.  I have had the blessing, on several occasions, to be present when someone dies.  Sometimes we are not there and our ministry takes place after the person has fallen asleep.

The other day I received a call from an Army Chaplain friend of mine.  He was calling to see if I would accompany the notification officer on an official death notification.  He was away at a class and there are very few chaplains here in Massachusetts.  I have served in this role before and I was willing to help out.

When a Soldier, Sailor, Marine, or member of the Coast Guard dies in the line of duty and officer if equal or greater rank and a chaplain are sent to the home to notify the family that their loved one has died.  Once we are allowed to enter the home, right away they know why we are there, the notifying officer say that the Secretary of the Army regrets to inform you… and so the speech goes.  I am not sure how much of this they actually hear past he died in action part but the words are necessary.

The chaplains role is rather undefined and sometimes we are there more for the notification officer then we are for the family.  However, we are there to bring support and comfort if we can.  This was my second one of these and my role was to pray.  I was praying all the way to the notification as well as during the actual notification.

I was honored to be part of this team and to help in adding dignity to the death of one who gave the supreme sacrifice.  I ask your prayers for the family.

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