On Friday, my father-in-law passed away. At 82 years old, his passing was a long time coming. He had been far from 100% for many years and certainly more unwell in recent months. Around mid-August he was admitted to hospital where he continually declined until he ultimately passed away.
In the weeks and days leading up to his death and in the days since, similar words were said and repeated over and over. Almost everyone had said something along the lines of "It's a terrible thing to say, but he would be/is better gone." And yes, it certainly sounds like something that's terrible to think, feel or say, but each and every time I heard it, I found myself thinking that it's really not such a terrible thing to say.
The phrasing might sound bad, but the intent is pure and good. In wishing for his final moment on earth, everyone was really seeking mercy, rest and peace for his soul. No one was asking for anything but the inevitable. He had been unwell, was worsening day by day and had almost no hope for any sort of recovery. He himself had said many times before, most notably in recent months, that he was ready to go. That he wanted to go. He had made it clear he did not want to be where he was in those final days and hours.
As Christians, specifically as Catholics, our family believes in life ever after and that there is a place in heaven for us once we pass. For our family, particularly his wife and children, the last couple of weeks have been long and tiring. Time has passed slowly, mostly spent waiting and wondering. If that was the case for us, we can only imagine how he must have felt.
He was no longer living, but dying. Knowing that, seeking reprieve for his body and mind is far from a terrible thing. We know in our hearts, through our faith, that he is now in the arms of God and that is truly a wonderful thing. May he rest in peace forever more.