My mother passed away one year ago. She spent the last month in a hospice house in Kelowna. Her last days for us as a family to witness were both painful and yet filled with many beautiful, profound spiritual experiences.
Mom said the most difficult thing about dying was leaving her family behind. She was a woman of great faith in God and she was very intent on blessing each of us individually before she died. She anointed our foreheads with oil and prayed a blessing over us. It took time for all seven siblings to arrive in Kelowna, but thankfully it happened. It was an experience we will forever treasure.
About a week or two before Mom passed away, her doctor stopped in to check on her. Mom was in some discomfort and the doctor suggested she could quicken the process to end her suffering, alluding to euthanasia. When I came to visit shortly after, Mom told me about the doctor’s visit. She had a look of confusion on her face and was very unsettled. I could just imagine the thoughts that assaulted her mind. Maybe this is too much for the kids? Maybe they’re tired of caring for me? Maybe I’m just a financial burden to society? Am I safe in this place or do they want to end my life? All very horrible thoughts for someone already so vulnerable and weak. I assured her that none of that was true and left it at that, although I was very angry at the doctor. Had the doctor spoken to the family first, she would have known that Mom would never have considered euthanasia as she believed her life was in God’s hands. That belief wrapped her in peace through a very difficult time.
One evening all seven siblings and various family members held a prayer vigil around Mom’s bed. We each held a candle. We read scripture, prayed, sang and released her to the Saviour she had believed in and served her whole life. We thought Mom was sleeping, but at the end she said “that was so beautiful.” There was a holy hush that fell in the room – a little bit of heaven on earth.
Had the doctor given Mom that lethal injection, we would have been deprived of some of the most beautiful and profound moments with Mom.
As a family we considered it an honour and a privilege to care for her and lavish her with love as she had done for us for so many years. We valued her life until she took her last breath.
Some of life’s greatest lessons are learned when facing difficulties. And compassion is something we are taught, often in the face of difficulties; it is not something we are born with. If we kill off those who bring us uncomfortable challenges, how will we learn compassion?
The issue of euthanasia has opened such a Pandora’s box in our society. We will continually be challenged by where to draw the line. Who is worthy of life? I believe that decision was never meant to be left in human hands. God help us.
The reason I write this is to make people aware that euthanasia is being offered to our vulnerable loved ones. If you are an advocate for someone who is dying and does not believe in euthanasia, be sure and let the medical staff know. That way you can spare your loved one from that disturbing conversation. My mother did not fear death, nor do you have to. Jesus was waiting with open arms to take her home and he is eager to walk with each of you through life also. His perfect love drives out all fear and in him you can find peace.