Balancing Faith and Science at the End of Life



July 7, 2015

caduce

(by guest blogger Sam Franklin)

My mother, luckily, died in the presence of six of her closest relatives — all of whom were born-again believers. Other patients aren’t as lucky.

Consider “Ms. Ellen,” who spent her last days surrounded only by medical professionals — none of whom affirmed her Christian faith:

Ms. Ellen felt the lack of sensitivity and respect for her faith, but she wanted the entire medical team to know that she knew she would not be living much longer. Why? Because hope for her at this critical moment was not rooted in anticipating a miraculous healing of her body, but in a need for spiritual peace and physical comfort as she approached the end of her life . . .

Unfortunately, Ms. Ellen would be robbed of this opportunity as she quietly lay in her bed, now questioning those more than 21,800 hours of hope-filled moments that she had tucked away over the many years of her life for a time such as this.

 

In my mother’s case, every decision she made reflected her beliefs. Unfortunately, Ms. Ellen’s beliefs influenced none of her medical team’s decisions. Nonetheless, even when patients tragically die alone, a Christian healthcare professional can help final decisions affirm deeply-held beliefs, regardless of their religious background.

Let’s take time to ask patients about their faith and how it impacts their last few days. We shouldn’t force our faith on them, but hopefully, we may have an opportunity to share the gospel. Together, patients and healthcare providers can agree upon appropriate treatment, and in doing so, we address an oft-neglected aspect of patient care: the soul.

NY Times Opinion Piece

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