45: In the Sweet By and By

45: In the Sweet By and By

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Inspiration for Nurses

In the Sweet By and By

Music is well said to be the speech of angels.

~Thomas Carlyle

My brother asked me to come to the hospital one evening. The matriarch from my childhood church was not doing well and the family was requesting support.

When I arrived I could hear her heavy labored breathing from the hallway. The family was not sure what to do as they watched their beloved mother/grandmother struggle for breath. She had changed her status to Do Not Resuscitate, and they wanted to keep her comfortable. But she didn’t look comfortable. As a hospice nurse I knew medications could make a difference and asked their permission to discuss changes to her plan of care with the nurse.

Unfortunately, it was not easy to make changes. It was the first week of the new electronic medical record and the computers were slow and the doctor didn’t answer our phone call.

Knowing how important her faith had been all her life and how helpless the family and I felt while waiting to get orders, I suggested we sing some hymns. We closed the door so we wouldn’t bother the patients in the neighboring rooms and started to sing.

We sang “What a Day That Will Be,” “Because He Lives,” “When We All Get to Heaven,” and finally, “In the Sweet By and By.” As we finished that fourth hymn, she grew quiet. No more struggling to breathe. She had peacefully left her old worn-out body.

I opened the door to tell her nurse and was surprised to find all the staff from the floor standing right outside. “She passed,” I said.

“We know. We saw it on the monitor. It was so beautiful we didn’t want to interrupt.”

It was beautiful. We had sung her to heaven.

~Kathy Stringham

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