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.
Catholic Pastoral Centre Staff and Guest Writers