Just for Catholics

Facing Death

Question: What happens right before death? What types of emotional/spiritual experiences does a person experience? My mom is going through a difficult time and I would like to be able to console her and take away some of the anxiety.

Answer: We naturally fear death because judgement follows our departure. Remembering our past sins and failures, the thought of standing before the Judgement seat of God and the possibility of condemnation is most frightening. However, praise God, there is One who can free your beloved mother from such fear: JESUS CHRIST. He shared our flesh and blood "that through death He might ... release those who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage" (Hebrews 2:14,15.

The eternal Son of God became man so that He might take upon Himself the penalty for the sins of His people. By His death, Christ paid their debt in full. There is therefore no condemnation for those who belong to Jesus Christ. And just as He overcame death by the divine power of the resurrection, He promises to bring us back to life on the last day. To those who trust in Him for salvation, He promises that on the day of their death, their souls would be with Him in heaven, just as He promised the repentant thief. “Assuredly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise.”

I encourage you to stay near your dear mother. Do not be afraid to talk openly on any subject which you consider important, including death. Read to her from the Bible, especially the Gospels - tell her about Jesus and His love for sinners. Read to her again and again His wonderful promise in Matthew 11:28: "Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest."

And pray with her, in your own words, asking the Lord Jesus for His mercy and salvation. He will surely give her - and you - His wonderful peace. Then even our greatest enemy, death, will work for our good because it becomes the gate to eternal life of sweet and unbroken communion with our blessed Saviour.

Copyright Dr Joe Mizzi. Permission to copy and distribute this article without textual changes. < BACK TO Q&A