Finding Reason: There is a Way to Live and Die With Hope 

By Jeff Adams
Posted 4/21/22

Because of COVID, I scheduled a “virtual deathbed visit,” using an online video app, approved by the prison for such usage. The incarcerated individual’s family member was tired of …

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Finding Reason: There is a Way to Live and Die With Hope 


Because of COVID, I scheduled a “virtual deathbed visit,” using an online video app, approved by the prison for such usage. The incarcerated individual’s family member was tired of the treatments and had chosen to have no more. She was miserable, not wanting to drag out her imminent death anymore.

The virtual deathbed visit started fairly normal. They laughed and shared some memories. Quickly, the tears came with more serious conversation.

Everybody knew this would be the last conversation between the incarcerated individual and the family member. It was markedly heavy.

She sipped her alcohol as she forged through the visit. No one asked any questions about it. I can only guess that it was for the pain — physically and emotionally. She cried a lot and there were moans mixed throughout the tears.

At one point she spoke of “the only good men she knew,” and it seemed awkward she left out the incarcerated individual. Then she piped up, “You’re not a good man. You’re in prison. … You have to become a good man.”

He laughed and cried. Although I had not ever seen him contrite, he seemed that way at this moment. Maybe he just never let me see that part of him. To his family, he knew he was a disappointment, and he didn’t want to continue to be. He made it clear, “There won’t be a next time.”

Another sobering moment was when his dying family member was crying and saying, “You were only a teenager.” She also mentioned he had been incarcerated over 10 years. Another thing she said was, “People who have murdered people have gotten out, and you’re still in there. … It’s just not fair.”

To provide some sort of comfort she mentioned she saw a medium. This medium told her some way off-the-wall things, as mediums do. Not sure why a medium would tell a dying woman the winning lottery numbers which would likely not be announced until after her death. Maybe the medium was more clueless than most. It felt so odd and hard to hear of her efforts to find some kind of comfort or peace in this moment, only to feel more hopeless and clueless as to her destiny after death.

To further provide some kind of comfort, she spoke of looking for certain symbols when she’s gone, and to know that when they see them, it’s her watching. She moved into how she wants to haunt people she doesn’t like anymore. They all laughed, but the overwhelming heaviness was blatant.

She even told the incarcerated one to use the chaplain if needed. Per regulations, I have to stay in the room and on the video. So, she knew I was the facilitator of the whole visit and knew I was trying to care for her incarcerated family member. At least knowing he had some support might have given her some relief.

In order to survive, he has to keep a certain image inside. So, he keeps me at a distance. Even so, there I was, watching lost souls struggle to navigate their way into the uncertainties of the afterlife.

The dying woman was a constant encouragement to her incarcerated loved one. Soon, that would be no more. His hopes of getting out and sitting at family dinners are now different. There’ll be an empty chair, reminding him of who he lost while incarcerated. It will bring a rush of emotions, emphasizing the finality of her departure.

It was painfully clear none knew Jesus or had any desire to know Him. None aspired to meet or arrive in heaven. There was no hope beyond today for them. There was an intense weight of hopelessness and deep sadness. The consensus seemed to be that peace would elude them for years after her passing. A hole would be left that can never be filled.

For Christians, there are similar emotions when someone is dying, but nowhere near as burdensome. Christians live with the hope of eternity in heaven — where there will be no more pain or sorrow (Revelation 21:4). Yes, they’re sad, and yes they’ll miss the one who passes; but they have hope of seeing that person again.

It was an honor to facilitate this deathbed visit. I’m grateful for the opportunity to help this incarcerated individual in his time of need. Although he didn’t ask and didn’t want me to pray with him, I prayed and continue to pray for him.

I’ve been in lots of situations like these, and I always want to learn what I can as I’m trying to be supportive and helpful to others. The emotion, the rawness, the seriousness, etc., did not go unnoticed. More important for me to notice these things is to note that God sees and feels it all. He knows what they’re going through. He knows what we’re going through. And He cares.

Don’t wait until it’s too late to consider living life with unimaginable hope and peace. Life as a Christian is not easy, but it comes with great benefits to individuals and others around them. Living for Jesus is absolutely worth the difficulties which inevitably come with it.

I can’t imagine approaching death without the confidence that Jesus’ grace is big enough for even me. Here’s a link to a message which might help you on your spiritual journey in understanding a little more about this grace of God:

Jesus is the only way to the heaven of the Bible (John 14:6). If you want hope of the heaven of the Bible, you’ll need to follow the Bible’s direction on how to get there. Some have reduced salvation down to simply believing in who Jesus is, but James 2 says believing must be accompanied by an illustrated faith. The rest of the New Testament explains the New Covenant plan of salvation, and it is clearly not only just believing or just saying a simple prayer.

New Testament salvation includes believing (John 3:16); repenting, which is changing your mind to make Jesus your Lord and Savior, which means you will live the rest of your life for Him (Acts 2:38); confessing in which you say out loud for others to hear that you are making Him Lord and Savior (Romans 10:9-10); being baptized (Romans 6:3f); and continuing steadfast in your Christian life (Matthew 24:13).

If you want to pursue this hope and peace about which I speak, find a local church which will love you through the process. Not all churches are the same, but don’t give up trying. We still do live in a country which has an abundance of options. Find one which fits you, and more importantly, one which uses the Bible for its direction.

May God bless you on your journey to heaven. Whatever you must go through to get there is worth it. And if we don’t get to meet on earth, I’ll meet you in our eternal home.


Pastor Jeff Adams is a longtime community leader, victim advocate, counselor and chaplain. He ministers internationally, nationally and locally. His column appears online weekly and can be reached at


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