Carmelite Fr Edward Lim, a doctor by profession, gave advice on how to prepare for death.Carmelite Fr Edward Lim, a doctor by profession, gave advice on how to prepare for death.More than 100 people attended a talk on the topic of death and dying

When it comes to speaking to terminally ill people, do not tell them “I understand” as the only person who truly understands is God himself.

This was one piece of advice that Carmelite Fr Edward Lim gave to some 140 people who attended his talk on dying and how one can prepare for it.

The Sept 18 event, held at CANA The Catholic Centre at Waterloo St, was organised in the light of recent crises such as the violence in the Middle East and the disappearance and downing of Malaysia Airlines planes.

Fr Edward, a trained medical doctor who has ministered to the dying, shared that of the various patients he has encountered, Christians appear to be the “most afraid” of death as many do not really know who God is.

“What is our faith? Where is our faith?” he asked the audience.

He gave the example of a 40-year-old woman who suffered from lung cancer. Despite her husband selling his business to pay for his wife’s treatment, she did not get better.

Fr Edward recalled the husband asking him, “What type of a God is this?”

The Carmelite priest explained that “the cross is not optional” for Christians.

Holding up a crucifix, he said that those who suffer are walking in the footsteps of Jesus.

Fr Edward then gave some tips on how to prepare for death. These include:
  • Showing concern for others
  • Asking oneself, “What really counts for me today?”
  • Forgiving others
  • Making a will when one is still young
He also advised those assisting the dying to respect the wishes of the person if he or she decides to refuse treatment. “Do not force,” he said.

During the question-and-answer segment, one participant asked if a Christian funeral is allowed for those who commit suicide.

Fr Edward replied that “we aren’t to judge” as it is a matter “between the soul and God”.

Fr Edward and the crowd then read Psalm 23 aloud together.

Participants told CatholicNews they learnt much from the talk.

“It was comforting for people ... who are still having some fears about death,” said Ms Doris Woon, 79. Fr Lim taught us to draw on our faith “to understand what is pain and suffering because death is tied up with our faith and with God”, she said.

Mr Anthony Wong, 63, commented, “The talk allows us to envision what we are to do with our lives.”

By Lorna O’Hara
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