by Dr. Heather Kuruvilla
Just days ago, much of the nation was facing wind chill advisories and subzero temperatures. But walking around my neighborhood yesterday, I heard the sounds of rushing water as the snow melted, the song of birds, and the honking of geese. The sun was shining, and the smell of spring was in the air. We knew it was coming. For weeks now, folks I’ve encountered, whether in line at the post office or ringing up my groceries at Wal-Mart, have been encouraging each other with the hope that “spring is on its way”.
Even on the coldest day, no one doubted that spring was coming. We’ve seen the seasons change again and again. The pattern of resurrection is woven throughout the fabric of nature. For every winter, there is a spring.
The fact that we’re still talking about Brittany Maynard proves that the “winter” of our lives is often difficult. Brittany Maynard, diagnosed with terminal cancer, chose to end her life last November rather than face the certain pain that lay ahead of her. I think any of us who has seen the ravages of cancer can empathize with what must have been an agonizing decision.
Her decision illustrates our very basic, human need for hope; the hope that winter will give way to spring.
As Christians, we hold to the hope of resurrection, knowing that the darkness of Good Friday gave way to the triumph of Easter Sunday. Christ, then, is our ultimate hope.
But a terminal patient needs “short-term” hope, too. What are some ways we can help suffering persons to embrace hope? According to Cancer Research UK:
Everyone needs to have some sense of hope for their future. When you are dying, this hope may be that you can visit a place that you love. Or you may hope that you can enjoy being with your family and friends for a time. Some people believe that there is life after death and find that this gives them hope…many people hope for comfort, dignity, friendship and love to surround them in their final days.
That means every one of us has the potential to be a hope-giver. For more information on helping the terminally ill, check out these resources: