I share with you he agony of your grief,
The anguish of your heart finds echo in my own.
I know I cannot enter all you feel
Nor bear with you the burden of your pain;
I can but offer what my love does give:
The strength of caring,
The warmth of one who seeks to understand
The silent storm-swept barrenness of so great a loss,
This do I in quiet ways,
That on your lonely path
You may not walk alone.
-Howard Thurman in Meditations of the Heart
From "Attending the Dying: A Handbook of Practical Guidelines" by Megory Anderson:
As a chaplain, you have the ability and the calling to set the stage for a good and holy death. Creating "sacred space" is one of the first steps in setting the environment apart from day-to-day issues, which in turn helps everyone present remember the sacredness of the event unfolding. Family members and loved ones often take their cues from you, the chaplain. If you honor the space and environment as something set apart, they will realize that the event taking place is holy.
The act of creating a sacred space allows for privacy and intimacy; it also defines the physical space so that it can contain the vigil process. Whether you find yourself in a hospital room, a nursing home, or a private residence, the need stays the same: to create and hold a space that is holy in order for this death to happen peacefully. As you create sacred space in the dying person's location, you want to be creative but not intrusive. This is one of the 'busy' times of vigiling, when you may be moving or cleaning things. However, this is not about what you like or find attractive. From this point on, your role as the chaplain or vigiler is to do what you sense is right for this particular dying person.