In one of my hospital chaplain volunteer shifts, I entered a room in the ICU where a 32 year old woman was in an irreversible coma. She was brain dead. Her family was in the room, emotionally distraught and sad to say the least. We were praying. I was talking to her parents about their daughter and about what had happened to her.
At one point, they asked me if I think that she can hear the family and are aware of them in the room despite being in a coma? I told them that I believe she does! I believe that her soul within her physical body had a full awareness of everything that is going on. I advised them to continue to talk and express their love for her as if she was awake and conscious.
A few minutes later, one of the doctors entered the room and was asked the same question by the family. The doctor provided them with a different answer than mine. He said that she is unaware of anything any longer due to the inability of her brain to function and her coma state.
Although disappointed with his answer, it was an answer that I expected from a man of science as opposed to my answer being a spiritual chaplain.
I don’t know what they felt or did with those two different perspectives. My hope is that, intuitively, they knew that their daughter was fully aware of her surroundings, fully aware of them, and fully aware of the immense love that she had before she left this planet and went home.
Unfortunately, two days later, she passed away. On my next shift at the hospital, I learned that this heroic woman and her heroic family saved six other people by donating her organs.
After this experience, I wanted to talk about this important and sometimes confusing difficult topic.