May 03, 2010

Quality of Life

Yesterday, I was on the phone with a family member who relayed to me an update on the elderly mother of his long time friend. The mother is 90, a widow of two years and due to physical infirmities confined to her home. Her son is very wealthy and in a position to keep his mother in her home and pay for 24/7 care out of his own pocket. He lives nearby, visits regularly and keeps a close eye on her care. He’s a good son. Yet he talks about “quality of life” and his mother’s lack of it.

My family member agrees with his friend and he went further by saying “Sometimes it’s better to just pull the plug”. I was stunned. All I could say was “The Lord will take her when He’s ready” He agreed with that but maybe the Lord needs help deciding.

Admit it. Aren’t there a lot of people who agree with this position: If you do not have a full life and are not fully able bodied and healthy then you are better off dead?

Of course, the criteria and judgement of death are theirs to make. If they don’t have the “guts” to carry it out then they want to find (or make) a doctor do it. If doctor are reluctant they want the courts to mandate it. Where will it end?

Ultimately, if we are honest with ourselves, is it always concern about their quality of life or is it selfishness about ours? Our “quality of life” is impacted when a loved one needs care. Our wallet, our time, our patience are all tested.

Maybe the test of faith is as much the infirm as it is ours. Our character, trust and love are all revealed in our response to illness as much as the person who is ill is. How much are we willing to sacrifice for someone we love? During a serious illness you will know the answer to that question.

Death may be a way out but is it the easy way out? Should it be?

Illness is a trial. It’s tough. I’ve been there. There are days were you are all you can be and days where you are less than you should be.

In the end, it’s the Lord’s decision to make. The Lord’s hand should be the only one “on the plug”

9 Comments:

Blogger gregj said...

Once the plug is pulled, it is entirely up to God, no more human interference.

That is how I would want it.

May 03, 2010 5:05 AM  
Blogger Cathy_of_Alex said...

But a human made that decision for God and that's my point.

May 03, 2010 6:00 AM  
Blogger Ray from MN said...

"...Test of faith is as much the infirm as it is ours. Our character, trust and love are all revealed in our response to illness as much as the person who is ill is. How much are we willing to sacrifice for someone we love? During a serious illness you will know the answer to that question."

It would appear from what you say, Cath, that the son is the one who is "suffering" (and maybe inconvenienced) right now. You are very right that "our responses" to circumstances like this are another of the many ways that God tests us.

On the other hand, the son may be just another victim of the lack of catechesis the Church has provided these past 40 years.

May 03, 2010 6:54 AM  
Blogger Subvet said...

Been there. When my father was dying of lung cancer back in '77 he'd ask for his pistol. Never gave it to him but the temptation was there. I'm VERY glad I never gave in, for both his sake and mine.

In the end, it takes faith to see the suffering of a loved one and not try helping God along.

Just my two cents. Great post and very appropriate for our times.

May 03, 2010 2:16 PM  
Blogger Terry Nelson said...

While my mother was dying I prayed incessantly for God to take her and relieve her of her suffering - afterwards it occurred to me I was really hoping to force God's hand to take her quickly to relieve me of seeing her suffer. Today with all of the options and choices available in doing what we believe to be "good for others", a lot of us can be deceived by our "good intentions".

May 03, 2010 3:40 PM  
Blogger Cathy_of_Alex said...

Ray: Truer than you know. The son left the church many years ago and went to Lutheranism. Not over this issue but something entirely different.

May 03, 2010 4:53 PM  
Blogger Stephen said...

Suffering - an inconvenience, a mystery, a trial, something that modern man is told to avoid at almost all costs. Of course we must not seek it out in a self-serving way, but as sure a Christmas is coming, it will find all of us. Jesus actually asks us to embrace the "crosses" that come our way, as He did, and in them we will find redemption and resurrection. There is no easier way, and no sweeter way. How bold of us to ask that others die so that we are not inconvenienced! In that process we also rob those who suffer from participating in their own salvation journey with Jesus.

May 03, 2010 5:15 PM  
Blogger nazareth priest said...

We can never directly intervene in the death of anyone; no way, no how.
If "ordinary means" are causing someone in the dying stages to suffer more (for example, food and hydration), they can be ceased with no moral problems (I know this from a friend who's father was suffering more from the iv of nutrition and hydration, which were suspended to lessen his suffering).
I have been scandalized by hearing of reports from this area (rural Wisconsin) of folks who wanted someone to shoot them or poison them if they were "terminal".
Good Jesus, mercy!
The dying process is also a time for repentance, conversion, reconciliation, making amends with family and others the dying person needs to do.
Plus, we need to be present to the dying...to assist them with prayer and love (how selfish it can be to "turn off" our affection and emotions because the dying aren't worth our trouble).
Great post, CofA.
God bless and keep you always.
The dying are some of the most vulnerable and "poor" in our midst...how can we just leave them to an injection or to the horrid solitude of dying alone...with no one to pray with them, hold their hand, love them?

May 03, 2010 9:31 PM  
Blogger Laura The Crazy Mama said...

I like Stephen's comment. Not many people understand suffering in this way.

May 03, 2010 11:18 PM  

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