I've been there in a couple of cases where sickly guys I've known through hale and hearty days get ready to meet their maker.
Elmer "Bud" Quist asked me to help him write his life story. I was pleased to be his scribe.
We were never assigned to visit as Home Teachers. We dropped by out of Love for both him and Florence. His feet retained fluid near the end and he checked into the hospital several days before they treated the problem and released him to die at home.
Knowing the end was near, Rosie and I dropped by, always be appointment, and took a little baked something--and a flower or two. (Years later, before she passed, Florence "willed" us one of her floral oil paintings. It hangs in our Hall of Frames as a colorful reminder of both of them!
At that visit I learned about the far away look. Reading Betty Eadie's book Embraced by the Light about going over to the other side temporarily, I learned that often, two or three "Guardian Angels" will come--sometimes with others--to welcome the failing soul to the other side. That may be one of the reasons for the Far Away Look.
I've always been a little slow at "changing gears" from the often jolly relationship I've cultivated with the dying to a compassionate and appropriately comforting relationship that every widow and bereaved relative deserves.
My Uncle Lewis told us seven years ago at my Dad's Memorial Service in Worland Wyoming that Mormons shouldn't cry at funerals. When I spoke last month at Mom's funeral in the same chapel I answered his statement.
If a Mormon is crying out of hopelessness, then, no! He shouldn't cry. There is everything to hope for as the deceased soul "graduates" to the other side and far better than he/she ever enjoyed here. Tears are just fine at a Mormon funeral--especially if they are tears of joy. Of course we'll miss the person who passes--but by the time they've lived a good life, there's not much left of them. My sweet Dad, for example, had Alzheimers and Dimentia--but he did remember my name enough to call it out when I visited him the October before he left for his adventure beyond the veil. (I think it was because Rosie and I hung a picture of our family with big names underneath in his little room at the rest home. Nobody else in the family did that.)
I think of all the dear souls over the years who have gone beyond and paved the way for my own passing. Everytime a baby is blessed, I envision the "farewell" service that was held a few weeks before in the pre-existence for that little intelligence to come down and claim a body in a great LDS family.
Similarly, I envsion a "Welcome Home" gathering as a recently deceased Brother or Sister gives a report to the congregation of predecessors on what's been learned and the latest family news they know!
If the 14th article of Faith is: "We believe in meetings, going to meetings, holding meetings for meetings sake and coming from meetings where we may or may not accomplish much", then this thing called death is another excuse to hold a couple of meetings: The Memorial Service on this side and the Welcome Back Meeting on the other side in prepartion for the next steps on the road toward Eternal Progression.
It is for us the living to organize at least one of those meetings--and be compassionate and hopefull all at once when we do! That's what I've learned about Death, at least so far! JRH