How to minister to someone dying by choice?

Discussion in 'Pastoral Ministries' started by annsni, Apr 25, 2015.

  1. annsni

    annsni
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    I'm not talking suicide here but instead, choosing to discontinue treatment. We had a dear woman become very ill and need surgery 2 months ago. She shouldn't have survived the surgery but she did and since then, she has been on a ventilator and just could not wean off of it. She couldn't move more than her hand a little bit and her head a little and with the ventilator, she could only mouth what she wanted to say. She had so many medical issues happening that they were playing a balancing act with - she needed fluids but fluids would cause her lungs to fill with fluids so they would cut back on the fluids which caused her kidney to not function properly so they would have to increase her fluids which would cause her lungs to fill…. and so on. She decided on Wednesday that she couldn't take it anymore and said that she wanted to go home. Her daughter asked her "Home where?" and she said "Heaven home. I want to meet Jesus." They confirmed her wishes yesterday and she was removed from the vent at 2 pm yesterday afternoon. She died this morning at 6:45 am.

    So how would you minister to her once she decided to die? It was so strange knowing that she KNEW that she would die soon and by her own choice. I don't blame her for the choice at all - I think it was the right one. She was not going to get better short of an absolute miracle and she was in a lot of pain.

    We spent time with her, prayed with her, read Scripture, promised to take care of her family (her daughter and son-in-law are dear friends) and sang some songs. We left once the family was ready to spend time alone with her but we were praying and praying all day and all night. I woke up so much during the night just praying for her. :(
     
  2. Scarlett O.

    Scarlett O.
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    I think you did the exact right thing.

    I have a former student who is now about 35 years who died pretty much this same way a month ago. He had lost one lung, had cancer in the other, had lived with a trach (he could never speak above a whisper) since he was a baby, "died" on operating tables twice, and had experienced more life-threatening physical trauma in his life than one should (he also could not walk very fast).

    He was a fighter because of his children, ages 6 and 8. He wasn't going to go quietly or softly. But once he realized that this time he wasn't going to survive, he made the decision remove the vent. He lasted 30 hours. His family and friends spent time singing, like you did, and praying and just talking.

    He spend some of the time, that he was able, talking to his children about his expectations of them and how much he loved them. He had given a testimony once at a local church that was recorded. They played it at the funeral.

    I think what you did and what this family did was the right thing.
     
  3. Revmitchell

    Revmitchell
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    Well the wrong way is to try to "fix" things with words. It is what it is and there are not magic words to make anyone feel alright. At this point it is a ministry of providing some comfort to the person and the family. We also need to know that once that decision has been made the family immediately begins the mourning process. While we do not want to treat here as if she or he is already gone we need to address the family based on where they are. Of course if salvation is needed then this is certainly a time to reach out.
     
  4. SaggyWoman

    SaggyWoman
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    * Sit and read to her -- Bible, poems, stories
    * Sing to her.
    * Sit with her.
    * Minister to her family.
     
  5. kyredneck

    kyredneck
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    That's about it in a nutshell. My Mom decided to die, and we all understood, and we gave all the comfort that was humanly possible until she left this realm.
     

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