I once heard a talk about ministering to the terminally ill and it occurred to me that we are all terminally ill if think about it. From the moment we take our first breath, a time clock starts ticking that will inevitably wind down. Some time clocks have more time allotted than others, but our time on this earth is finite.
Not to take anything away from the people who are imminently and knowingly facing death, but none of us know the day of our departing. Christ encouraged us to let today be sufficient and let tomorrow worry about itself.
Thinking of it that way, if you take the advice given to end-life ministry and apply it to everyone you meet, regardless of their “last day”, this is how we should respond to each other using the anagram “COMFORT”:
Confront your own fears about death (make sure you believe what you are trying to tell them).
Offer your physical presence (sometimes what a person needs most is just human contact and assurance).
Minister with practical assistance (how can I help you?) Peter says that we are a royal priesthood, so we should accept that responsibility to each other.
Fortify them with emotional support (Love them as we are loved).
Open them up with questions (encourage dialogue). James tells us to be swift to hear and slow to speak.
Remember their family and loved ones (take time to care about the people they love).
Turn them to Jesus.
I know that end-life ministry is much more than what I wrote here, but I do believe that if we treat each other as if this day was the last day we would have together, we would all be more attentive to caring for one another.