I am a volunteer in a busy, hospital in a sizeable Canadian city. I have been visiting someone that I’ll call Linda. Linda has terminal cancer. Her family doesn’t live nearby and her husband is also ill in another facility. Linda is alone.
I had been visiting Linda for weeks when one day she suddenly confided in me that she has been offered MAID (Medical Aid In Dying, or euthanasia) many times by her doctor. She lay there, frail and alone, with tears in her eyes saying, “It’s not what I want. It is against my faith. But they keep offering it. I feel so depressed.”
Linda is one of many in our country facing the consequences of legalized euthanasia. She is alone. She is vulnerable. And what is our culture offering her during her time of crisis? A lethal injection?
Surely, we can do better. Surely, the answer to someone like Linda is not “Let me kill you,” but instead “Let me help make your last days as beautiful and meaningful as they can be. You are loved. You are valued. You are not alone.” Surely, the answer is to lift up, not to put down.
I have found that it is the little things that restore our dignity and make us feel loved and valued. In Linda’s case, I told her she must never feel pressured to accept MAID. I allowed Linda to express her fears, and she came to the conclusion that God must have a plan for her.
Then, I went to the hospital kitchen and found a plant with bright, beautiful flowers and placed it in her window. “These flowers are here to cheer you up. When you look at them, you will know that someone cares.”
It was a small gesture. It was all I could do, and I continue to visit Linda every week to offer her hope.
The above was written by one of more than 800 volunteers who have participated in LifeCanada’s Dying Healed program since April 2017. The Program effectively trains people to serve in pastoral care settings.
The testimony exemplifies what this program and indeed ALL of LifeCanada’s programs are about giving hope and affirming the dignity and value of all human life.
Did you know that since June 2016, over 8,000 Canadians have been victims of Medical Aid in Dying?
The Dying Healed Program has become a major aspect of our work at LifeCanada and we are continuing to expand into areas all across Canada.
I couldn’t go into labour without acknowledging that we are a family with six children.
I am so grateful for each of my babies; each one an unmerited gift.
Life after loss is incredibly humbling. I thought my womb was the safest place on Earth. I thought I was good at having babies. I thought miscarriage happens… to other people. What value did Jude’s short life hold, or my own? I pondered these and countless other thoughts. I kept coming back to these words:
“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness. I will all the more gladly boast of my weaknesses, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities; for when I am weak, then I am made strong.” Corinthians 12:9-10.
And in my weakness, I was met with many new and old consoling friends. To my friends still looking for a husband or wife and wanting to start a family. To my friends who silently struggle with infertility. To my friends who’ve experienced miscarriage, stillborn or infant loss, loss of a child to sickness, suicide, an accident and other kinds of loss. Thank you for opening your hearts to me this past year. Our family and friends loved us back to life with each act of kindness.
Pregnancy after loss is incredibly humbling. I carried distrust of my body and anxiety throughout this pregnancy. I am grateful for the ways my eyes have been opened to the world of hidden suffering.
Nearly a year later, Jude continues to come into my life in the most unexpected moments. I am still his mother and he my son. And he continues to transform my interior life and turn my gaze from ground-level to the glory of God.
As most of us know by now, life isn’t as it appears in a nicely lit, staged snapshot. But it’s good to let our lights shine and to celebrate the joy that triumphs over the woundedness and pain we each uniquely experience throughout life. Here’s to this final stretch of pregnancy (due date Oct. 6). Praying for a safe labour, blessed birth and all the unfolding of life that is to follow!
Written by: Sara Francis
Catholic Pastoral Centre Staff and Guest Writers