We've been privileged at Grace to engage in a four-week series of discussions around the End of Life. If you've missed them, you can watch them on Grace's Youtube Channel (the last one will be available by 11-21-20).
Here, our facilitator Shannon Moore, a retired palliative care physician, shares how dying can be a human, not a medical, experience. Read more about Shannon at the end of this entry.
|Image by Clay Banks at www.unsplash.com|
How to Make Love and Humanity Manifest at the End of Life
Dying is a human experience and needn’t be a medical one. As a physician for over thirty years, I’ve seen humanity and dignity lost in the maze of medical “miracles” that are frequently offered. As our bodies age or weaken, many times treatments are possible to combat one or a host of diseases or dysfunctions. Sometimes these therapies are helpful, but in the time approaching end-of-life, (days, weeks, months or even years) often these treatments only serve only to prolong the dying process, adding burden and suffering rather than comfort and dignity.
I have seen people hooked up to wires, machines, sedated and alone dying in the ICU. I’ve seen others home, surrounded by family and friends, with a beloved pet, looking out at a favorite view. Each life comes to an end, and we will have an opportunity to weigh in on how we might like to do even that part of our life journey.
How in the world can we sort out the best approach, one that honors our humanity, dignity and personhood? It starts by having “the conversation” with yourself and then with others. While it might be overwhelming and even scary, the conversation need not be the “final“ conversation, just the beginning--one small step in the process of choosing the most loving thing for yourself, your life, on behalf of others.
When done well, humanity and love is made manifest. Families and friends grieve but suffer less with guilt or conflict or trauma that may be transmitted through generations. With planning and conversation, we empower our friends and family and relieve them of additional pain.
What is the most loving thing? How can we live and die wholeheartedly, modeling faith and strength even at the last? Like we do everything else. . . . by being prayerful and plan-full.
Shannon Moore has a background in critical care medicine, tropical medicine and is a consultant/educator in palliative medicine (now mostly international in focus). She and her husband, Jeff Bassette, are actively practicing their craft in different ways, and having just been in Washington state for five months, exploring how to participate and contribute to our community in ways that are fruitful and enriching.