Monday, October 22, 2007

Let Me Die!


“I have just asked the doctor to give me an injection that will make me go to sleep and not wake up. But he refused”.

This was said to me today by an 87 year old lady in hospital. She fell and broke her hip, and is in constant discomfort. Until now she has moved with a walking frame, but now might not walk again. Her husband of a 60 year marriage died last year. Her children live in countries that are far away from here. And she is tired of living. So she looked at me and explained that she has had enough of this life. She is not afraid of dying – in fact she would welcome dying as an opportunity to reunite with her husband.

So what do I say to her?
I am not going to offer platitudes about “feeling better in the morning” or some nonsense about God taking her at the right time. She is allowed her feelings without me adding layers of guilt. I held her hand and said that I know that God understands her feelings. And I prayed for God to give her peace....then I went to the hospital chapel and asked God to release her from life.

I do not presume to know if her life should come to an end. Who am I (or anyone else) to know when a person is ready to leave this life? But I do know that there is no merit in pain and suffering. I know that living a long life is far less important than living a useful life. And that this old lady ought to be allowed to leave this life at the time she desires.

7 comments:

bugs said...

Thank you Pete, you have touched on something that i have been struggling with for the last four years. For me, it boils down to the question "what is life"

Anonymous said...

Pete,
Having seen my mother, who used to be a vibrant, loving, living person turn into a shell with no quality of life, I understand your prayer. It has become mine to release her from a life of pain which she cannot even share by words any longer.

Anonymous said...

Pete,
Having seen my mother, who used to be a vibrant, loving, living person turn into a shell with no quality of life, I understand your prayer. It has become mine to release her from a life of pain which she cannot even share by words any longer.

Deacon Sue said...

From a pastoral perspective, I think you responded sensitively but I am not sure that God 'releases' or otherwise, people from anything...and I think you made a bit of a sweeping statement about pain and suffering, and, usefulness over longevity...against what do you measure these things...

Deacon Sue said...

PS...What are you trying to say about HIV status...unless someone has been given a positive diagnosis, you can only know your status on the day you were tested...

Crimson said...

Hey,

We have that saying of our gift from God is life and how we life it is our gift to Him - now if our value of life and the essence and meaning of it is no longer in sight is it really still a gift to our maker, I like belive to He inteded for us to enjoy our lives and have a wanting to be here on earth, and besides who has the right to deny us from wanting to be with our Heavenly Father - which poses another question; suicide (desperate) plea...

I don't know how I would of handled this situation, but praying for God's will be done, His peace and loving hands enfolding her would be some of the first words out of my mouth.

Gods strength,

David said...

A difficult one indeed!
There are many one would regard as 'useless' in the frail care ward. Fragile, senile, childlike in nature, and some have nothing but their bed for company. There is however one lady I remember, who was much of the above but wore a straw hat and smiled day in and out. She was off to be with God she said and she was so excited and joyful to let all who past her bed know? She is a legend in her town. At 'life's edge' could be ones greatest moment of witness?... (yes I am back! it aches not to write)