|« THE DYING
ARE ASKING US FOR HOPE »
There is what is called « planned » or « deliberate » euthanasia. It is practised by nursing staff, alone or in teams, whether the patient has expressed the desire to die or not. These actions are rooted in failure in the face of illness and the desire to remain an actor, to « do something » - « we have failed in the face of disease, let us remain the masters of death ».
This is an aspect of medical power that Catholic doctors reject and have been trying for a long time to get to evolve (Cf. works of Father Verspieren + « Médecine de l'Homme »).
There is « passive » euthanasia, the culmination of non-accompaniment. Families, but also certain medical staff don't know how to push, open the door of the room of a dying person as they do not know what to DO. They do not yet have the notion that to BE with a terminally ill person is to bring to that person what he or she most needs ; the life of others.
There is, in effect, accompaniment based on :
- the hope of a life beyond life,
- but especially the certainty that we are already living the Kingdom in which the other, the patient, also has his place. His life, the life he still has left for a few hours, days or months, has meaning. This life that is coming to an end is still going to enable him to do great things : to be reconciled with someone, with his Lord, or to be a model for someone else, or…
This business manager has been asking me for 6 months to help him to end his life. He has an fire-arm on him, but the help of his doctor would be a comfort to him. During the course of the increasingly difficult and painful last months of his life, without God, he repeated the request several times. Each time, I encouraged him to wait a little longer. He died on Christmas night surrounded by his children with whom he had just been reconciled.
I was struck by the fact that all the participants in the last broadcast of « La Marche du Siècle » came to the same conclusion that the act of accompanying a dying person, even in the case of a person who had previously asked to be helped to die, was enough to stop the request being repeated. The dying are asking us for Hope.
5 October 1998.
EUTHANASIA FILE :
« THE DYING ARE ASKING US FOR HOPE
« I accompanied my husband… » (Alzheimer's
Voluntary companions in palliative care, ASP
In a hospital service,