Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Euthanasia #5 - a silent passage

Not so long ago, my pastor asked if I could accompany him to visit a parishioner who was dying from terminal colonic cancer and had just slipped into coma.

At her home, the grief was palpable. Clearly, she was a very much loved woman in the family. The cancer had taken its toll and her body had been reduced to mere skin and bones. She lay on the bed hardly breathing; her eyes staring vacantly towards the ceiling. She was totally unresponsive and uncommunicative, and I could understand why the family thought she had gone into a coma. But in that small HDB flat, as I stroked her forehead and held her hand, a silent tear rolled off the corner of her eye. The poor woman wasn't in a coma. She was just too weak to respond to anything. Couldn't even move her eyeballs let alone breathe or speak. She was on death's door, and just needed some reassurance and comfort.

We prayed over her, and held her hands for a bit longer. I told her loved ones to keep speaking those words of comfort to her because I was sure she heard all they said.

She passed away soon after.

Euthanasia would have been wrong for her. All she needed was the comfort of her loved ones around her... for someone to hold her hands and to be with her as she stepped across the threshold. As Christians, we were confident God was waiting to receive her as she stepped over, but on this side of the great divide, most would appreciate the company of a loved one until the very last moment.

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