In my sixty-three years of ministry, I have watched many people want to die but their “battery” wouldn’t stop. Why not? I first thought that for many, even entering the world is a struggle, so why wouldn’t leaving it be? But this isn’t an answer.
Many people are terrified to discuss death, so it’s never dealt with, even though they know every living thing dies. No discussions about death or the fear of the unknown and no plans often results in dragging on the inevitable.
I was raised in a preacher’s house, so the subject of death was open. As a small child, I went with my father to the mortuary so he could talk about funeral services. Dad and the funeral director often looked inside the casket, so I felt free to peek and make comments.
When I joined the Marine Corps after college during the Korean War, I had no qualms buying a life insurance policy in case I was killed. Many of my fellow officers didn’t even want to consider that possibility.
When I became a clergyperson, my wife and our children were exposed to the idea that death is a part of life, so we talked about it in a matter-of-fact fashion. Anne and I have specific plans in writing, drawn up by an attorney, so that there would be no question about our wishes for assisted suicide when our quality of live is negligible. Our children agree and have no objections.
We both believe that there is nothing after we die except “to ashes we shall return” (Gen. 3:19), which is fine with us.
Some people are forced to live on because the facility they are in doesn’t believe in helping people die. They say, “God is the decider.” Ugh! I also know the facility can get a great deal more money if the person stays alive with machines.
Then, there can be family members who don’t want the person to die, often for selfish reasons, so they block efforts to allow that person to die. This one is a very difficult pastoral challenge.
Here are some ideas on how to make dying easier: (1) Talk openly about death with family and friends. If you’re terrified of the subject, seek help from a knowledgeable person (though not a mortuary; they are in the money-making business). (2) Read a book on the subject, such as Final Exit by Derek Humphry. It’s not long but packed with good information. (3) Write your will this week. Pay an attorney or use LegalZoom, an excellent do-it-yourself company. (4) If you’re interested in learning more about assisted suicide, check out Compassion and Choices at www.compassionandchoices.org.
If you have done your homework and are ready to die, then stop eating and drinking (a sip of water can add one more day) and have a hospice nurse inject morphine, then dying will not be hard.
Are you ready?
Peace Love Joy Hope
Photo by Dominik Lange on Unsplash