Right to Die and Pastoral Care?
Does Pastoral Care and the aid in helping the suffering patient find death compatable? Many find confusion in this gray area of what is right or wrong. This ethical quicksand seems to have no clear cut answer at times. While, as care givers, we understand the reality of extraordinary measures and ordinary measures of preservation of life, but when one comes into contact with such suffering, it becomes difficult to resort to a text book answer.
This is the same mental anguish Daniel Kreiger faced in the death of his own mother. In his article, “Should the Terminally Ill Control Their Deaths’, Kreiger describes his story and the ethical situation in general.
If you’re dying and don’t care to wait around for death, you can always book your own appointment. One simple way to do this would be to stop eating and drinking; another would be to stop life-sustaining medicine or devices. Assuming you can decide on your own, both of these methods are good and kosher as far as the law goes. A third approach, however, ventures into a grayer area of legal and ethical terrain—quaffing a lethal cocktail. In the business of ending your life, the means matter a lot more than the final result.
These were three things my mother, Ann Krieger, was pondering when she reached the final leg of her terminal illness last year, a month before Mother’s Day. After several years of fighting colon cancer, her doctor broke the news that the cancer had spread and the treatment was no longer working. There was no more they could do.
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Mark Moran, MA