Religion; Hatred; Tolerance; Part 2

This is part 2 of a longer series. To read part 1 click here:

Assisted Dying and Assisted Living

The end is a scary time for some and there are a lot of choices to be made. What is the family to do in the event of a sudden illness (stroke, heart attack, stage 4 cancer) or an accident? What should they do if a long-term illness becomes terminal?

Christians believe in a plan, that they will go to the grave no sooner and no later than god intends. Our lives become an intricate weaving of predetermination and free will that is impossible to explain or unravel.

My grandparents are in their 70s and are preparing for the end. They have decided that they do not want to be kept alive by machines. If there is no hope of them waking up, let them die. This fits with the Christian beliefs, when it’s time to go they want us to let them go with grace and acceptance.

On the flip side are people who have been given a terminal prognosis. As far as doctors are concerned there is no hope of them surviving. There is no cure. But they cannot choose to end their own lives, their own suffering, in their own time – they MUST wait for a natural end.

I agree with DNR and ‘natural death’ orders. I am wary of assisted dying. For one thing, there are new medical break-throughs all the time. For another, if I died today, what would I miss? Births, marriages, the successes of my family members, a new Avengers movie … I am so entwined with my family I cannot imagine leaving them before I have to.

I also watched liver cancer kill my mother. She died at home. We changed her sheets daily because her skin was so sensitive. She threw up everything she ate. She slept in restless bursts. She couldn’t climb the stairs, couldn’t get out of the damn bed without help. It was heartbreaking to watch. She was terminal. She was beyond saving, even if they found a cure it was too late to reverse the damage done to her body.

So what difference would a few days have made? By the end we weren’t sure she was even seeing us. I’m pretty sure she thought my husband was my dad, just years ago. We’re pretty sure she was going through the motions of the chemo treatments, the in and out of the bed stuff, the asking for my dad all the time. Were we selfish to put her through a week of suffering? Or would it have been selfish to end her life so we wouldn’t have to watch her suffer?

I don’t know. She’s been gone nearly 4 years now and the grief is still too raw to think objectively about these things.

In the end it was her choice though. I’m sure that if she wanted out we could have figured out a way to OD her on the pain meds. But that’s not what she wanted so we didn’t do it. It was her choice to wait for the end to find her. And she taught us a lot about strength and grace in the process. We supported her choice. We will support my grandparents in their death as we do in their life. You don’t have to make the same choice. That’s the beauty of choice.


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