Updated: Feb 2, 2022
"The Passing of the Soul at Death," 1918, Evelyn De Morgan
It had been a long battle with cancer. He knew he was dying and admitted it. What I didn't know, nor did he tell me at the time, was that he was struggling with deep feelings of fear and despair. He was a man of faith, but these dark spirits were very real and very strong, and they tormented him.
As we prayed over him, one of our spiritual sensitives sensed the presence what she called, "an Evil Spirit of Infirmity". So, we explicitly prayed again and again that this demon would be cast out. When the session ended, there was a remarkable change in the man. The darkness around him lifted and he said, for the first time in a long while, he felt hopeful and at peace.
As the months wore on, these evil spirits returned, although not as strong. It seems that Satan was continuing to exploit his natural fear of death, which was the opening for the Evil One to return, and tempting him to despair. He fought valiantly against this final temptation. Some time later, he passed away in peace.
St. Catherine of Siena in her famous work, The Dialogue , reported that the Lord said to her, "This last sin [of despair] graver to Me than all the other sins." Souls guilty of despair "judge [their] misery greater than My mercy." Despairing of God's mercy, "this is that sin which is neither pardoned here nor there, because the soul would not be pardoned, depreciating My mercy." As an example, the Lord told St. Catherine, "The despair of Judas displeased Me more, and was more grave to my Son than was his betrayal of Him" ("A Treatise of Discretion," Dialogues, p. 55 of 169).
Throughout our lives, but especially at the hour of our death, evil spirits of infirmity and despair are wont to afflict souls. The remedy is clear: we trust in God's mercy. Whatever our sin, no matter how grave, the Lord stands ready to forgive and to welcome us into his Kingdom. We only need to ask.