Serious illness or surgery disrupts our lives and can challenge our trust in God. The Church's beautiful ritual of the anointing of the sick can bring comfort and peace. Its purpose is to strengthen us and bring about inner healing. Times of illness are often a time to heal relationships that are strained or broken.
As the name of the sacrament implies it is not limited to the moment of death. It is preferable to celebrate the sacrament in the presence of family and friends. It can take place in someone's residence, at church, or in the hospital. It is best to request anointing early on during an illness so as to experience the full grace of the sacrament throughout an illness or recuperation.