The Right To Die…

Brittany Maynard is 29 and she has a terminal brain tumor.
She wants to die on November 1st.  Her story can be found on most news sites today: Brittany Maynard Story

It is a sad situation.  I cannot even begin to image someone so young facing the certainty of death at this point in life.  My heart aches at this story.

Questions that I ponder today:
Is there dignity in death?
Are there times when doctor assisted euthanasia is appropriate?
How does faith fit into to all of this?
Can we reconcile our faith with a due date for death?

I have no answers for these ponderings today.
I mourn at Brittany’s difficult decision…but I honestly can’t see where her decision is wrong.  Perhaps you might disagree with me, and that’s fine.  I’ve been in the hospital rooms of the dying and the recently deceased.  I’ve watched and witnessed what cancer can do to a body as it wastes away.  There are fewer and fewer moments of clarity…fewer and fewer moments  of “last words” while there is a lingering, painful death watch for the family to endure.  Usually all that the doctors and nurses can do is make someone comfortable with pain medication and other such drugs.  I can understand why Brittany doesn’t want her husband and family to go through that.  I don’t think it’s selfish for her to consider this means to an end.  I don’t believe in giving up hope.  I do believe in miracles, but when in the face of death is there are right and wrong in the way one will meet the Father at the hands of knowledgeable doctors?

If faced with this similar decision, would I choose differently?  I don’t know.
Would I want my family to suffer through the last stages of a horrific battle?  Probably not.  Would I want to end it before I’m too far gone?  Probably.

Morality and Ethics:
I know what it means to assist with another person’s end of life decision.  I understand the preservation and sanctity of human life.  Yet in this case and cases like it I have to believe in a God of grace and understanding far beyond our own comprehension.  There are no clear cut black and white answers here.  I have to believe that life wasn’t supposed to be this way for anyone.  We do live in a fallen world.  We do live in a world wrought with incurable diseases and at times, hopeless situations.  I am not arguing theology here, nor do I wish to debate the right or wrong of euthanasia or assisted suicide…I just wish to ponder the ins and outs of this specific sad, sad situation for Brittany.

I may not have any adequate answers for this equally complicated end of life situation, but I can tell you what kind of answers I do have. It makes me want to hold my kids and my wife a little closer. It makes me truly appreciate the time that I have on this earth a little more…and to not take it for granted. It brings the choices I make and how I treat others in this life (including my friends and family) that much more important.

My prayers go out to her, to her husband and her family.  I cannot even begin to imagine what she is going through, but I do believe there is a God who loves her very much and longs to end her suffering with an eternal healing.  My thoughts and prayers are with Brittany and the family today.

Surviving Diseases…and Ultimate Healing

Heal me, O LORD, and I will be healed; save me and I will be saved, for you are the one I praise. -Jeremiah 17:14

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Recently in the news a girl was denied to be put on the adult lung donors list in Philadelphia.  Then the decision was overturned by the court system to put this girl afflicted with Cystic Fibrosis on that same adult lung donor list.  She went from having next to no hope to finally having some hope of getting new lungs as the disease ravages the lungs leaving them scarred and unusable.  This horrible disease is carried through family genetics and those children it appears in have a shortened life span.  But with new medicines and transplants the lives of those who it effects can be prolonged for many many years.

In recent days as this story unfolded the family celebrated the reversal of the initial decision.  Taking politics aside, the life of a child even with the high risk of surgery and rejection of the organs means everything for just more time to live and breathe.  Now today,  Sarah Murnaghan who is 10 years old will be getting new lungs.  Her name was on the list and it was called.  No one knows if this will be successful, I pray that it is, but as a parent of four children myself, I would want to know that my child is given every opportunity to survive an ordeal such as this!  Any parent would fight for their child in the same way as Sarah’s has!!

Spiritually speaking, everything in this life is a gift from God…even more time!  I don’t pretend to understand what her family is going through or the long painful journey that they have already been on, but I do know that we serve a God who cares and ultimate will heal us all.  Life, regardless of illness and disease is terminal.  I know what your thinking, that doesn’t sound very uplifting.  True.  But in the grand scheme of things we all know that some day we too will face that veil that separates us from life and death.

I have held the hand of dying people, I have been in the room of those who have breathed their last.  I have performed funerals for families and their dearly departed.  What I do know about this life is that we all long for more time.  We all want to linger with our lost family member for one last time.  What I also know is that life is so precious and it is a gift!  We ought to celebrate every moment that we are alive here on Earth, but also know that this physical life isn’t the end of it all!

I am excited for Sarah Murnaghan and her family.  I pray that she pulls through this impending surgery…illnesses and diseases of all kinds are horrible, let alone to those children who are afflicted by them.  I pray that she heals, and that she gets to enjoy breathing without pain once again!

Do you serve a God who heals?  I do.  Even if that healing becomes an ultimate one, I know that there is life beyond the grave!  What a celebration we will all have one day when we see family members who have gone on before us!  In the mean time, relish life…live it fully and celebrate it with a God who desperately wants to be apart of yours!

We have this one life, we have to decide what we’re going to do with it!  Don’t let it slip through your fingers and come to the end of your life and face regrets.  Celebrate, relish, and live!

Current news story:  http://www.foxnews.com/health/2013/06/12/girl-dying-cystic-fibrosis-to-receive-lung-transplant-today/

Here are some links about Cystic Fibrosis and ways we can also help those children suffering from Cystic Fibrosis:

https://www.causeway.org/cause/view/end-cystic-fibrosis-this-decade-aka-cf-smackdown?gclid=CO3uysuj37cCFchDMgodQlEA9g

http://www.cff.org/

http://www.cff.org/aboutcf/faqs/

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cystic_fibrosis

http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/cystic-fibrosis/DS00287

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