End-of-Life Care Over Cure

Ultimately we all are going to die as long as Jesus tarries. Dying is an inevitability, not a choice. But there are choices concerning how we die. When I heard of the advanced directive for end-of-life called Allow Natural Death my first thought was, “Death is allowed?” I mean we really do not want to see our loved ones die. Even God at creation did not desire death and He considers death our last enemy to be conquered at his return. In this newer ethical directive we allow an honorable natural passing of our loved ones. We must be willing to let go and be joyful in hope that as Christians we will be reunited with them in the age to come. A natural death, then, we need to allow without fear.

The care that we give to our dying must be couched in our faith, that death is not the end but the beginning of eternal life in peace and wholeness for those in Christ our Lord. To allow them to exit their body graciously is to allow them a cure for their souls awaiting in heaven.

What is Allow Natural Death (AND)? AND is neither Euthanasia nor Assisted Suicide. AND is only for the terminally ill or where advanced aging has begun shutting down their systems. It is not a directive for emergencies; we should us all means to save the perishing. AND is coming to the reality that someone is nearing the end of this life; ushering them with honor, dignity, and our full support to pass into eternity with God. AND does not take away care; it stops fighting for a cure.

With the advancement of modern medicine comes the issue of sustaining the body indefinitely. We are confronted with the medical worldview of cure rather than care. We feel compelled to do all things possible for the dying to sustain their vital signs lest we are charged with their death. The medical professionals give us the options of aggressive therapies or the feeling of abandonment (e.g. DNR). We feel guilt to do all we can. Where is the balance between callous passivity and allowing a dignified death? If death is inevitable, it should not be a struggle but a release into the everlasting arms of God.

We must balance the cure of the body and the care for the soul. The Hippocratic Oath says, “Do No Harm.” Is there harm in allowing one to die when clearly they are at the end-of-life? The heroics of CPR, resuscitation, and intubation can weary a soul trapped in a dying body and their family. To play tug of war with the gates of heaven may seem a harmful act to the dying. Consider your faith and your ultimate fate to prepare yourself and your loved ones on how you want to enter eternity. Talk openly with your doctors, pastor, and family about the need for care as much as a cure.

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