Today we recognize Sanctity of Life Sunday in our faith, and want to share some thoughts about END OF LIFE DECISIONS.
Why this? Today we know that greater than 90% of Americans will die a ‘managed death’ and be allowed to make decisions about how long they will live and under what conditions – Advanced Directives, care choices, Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care, and Living Will documents, are many of the forms that are required with most types of medical care facilities – almost before you see a care provider!
In Seasons for Wholeness Vol. 3, Ruth Daumer listed principles that may help in guiding our heath care decisions as adapted from Christian Care at Life’s End.
- Each person is created in God’s image and deserves to be treated with the same standard of care
- As Creator, God alone knows with certainty if a condition is incurable
- When God given body functions to sustain life are no longer effective and the doctors’ judgement is that there is no real hope for recovery, a Christian may in good conscience, let nature take its course.
- Providing pain-relieving medications, even at risk of shortening life, is permissible, since this does not involve the choice of death over life.
- When suffering intrudes into life it provides the opportunity for Christian witness and service.
- It is good ethical practice for doctors to receive a statement signed by the patient indicating wishes to end life-sustaining treatment in case of a terminal condition.
- Death is not only a physical event, but a crucial emotional and spiritual experience for each person.
- Euthanasia in its proper sense involves suicide/murder. It is therefore contrary to God’s will.
- Any complex health care decision and related actions that later appear to be misguided, have been redeemed by Christ.
I have Life forms for you to begin to work on making certain your information and wishes are available in case of emergency—in the narthex on top of the mailboxes. I urge each one of you to fill out a form for you and any minors in your household, and follow the posting directions on the back of the form. This is a beginning and is so very important to have immediately when there is an emergency. I’ll be sharing more on this very important topic in the near future.
If you have questions or concerns related to health care decisions, I would be happy to visit with you. In all of our decision making, may we share David’s hope, “But I trust in You, O Lord; I say, ‘You are my God.’ My times are in your hands” (Psalm 31: 14-15a).
In Peace and hope,
Cynthia Rutan, RN, Parish Nurse at Peace Lutheran Church and School firstname.lastname@example.org