The Process of Dying

The Process of Dying

Today’s advances in medicine have made the process of dying much more complicated. Proverbs 31:6-7 told the people of ancient times, “Give strong drink to the one who is perishing … let them drink and remember .. their misery no more.” Death is a natural part of life, and for most of us, it is the pain associated with dying that we fear, not so much death itself. Ten million adults age 75 and older visit emergency rooms yearly, and 50% of older adults will be there in the last month of their lives. Adults 65 and older have the highest ER utilization of any age group. The real issue for most of us is quality of life.

Many of us have had a loved one suffering with no hope of ever having a quality of life again and just wanting to go and be with Jesus and not have any more pain. Your author has had to deal with a child in that situation. My son Tim was a victim of COVID. Medical practice was to give him treatment that would keep him alive – including a respirator and a drug package. He survived COVID, but it left horrendous residual damage. Tim could not sit up, take care of his toilet needs, feed himself, walk, or even push a call button when he needed help. I could understand about half of what he said, but no one else could.

Because of Tim’s blindness and mental challenges, he lost the few things he could enjoy. He spent his last months in a nursing home that could meet his basic needs, and gradually his body weakened to the point that he finally passed away. What is wrong with this picture which is repeated over and over in America today? The nursing home Tim was in had some 50 people in similar situations, and the nurses told me I was the only family that visited regularly. People were left in the process of dying, abandoned by loved ones who couldn’t emotionally deal with the situation.

When Tim was admitted to the hospital with COVID, I asked the doctors to allow him to die pain-free and nothing more. They told me they were obligated to do as much as possible to keep him alive and reprimanded me for suggesting they should do nothing but make him comfortable. A national movement called “Assistance in Dying” is working to allow doctors to provide palliative care while allowing a person to die if they choose.

God designed the human body to end its existence without endless suffering, but those who reject faith in God want life to continue at all costs, financially and psychologically. We need to allow God’s will to determine the process of dying and how life ends.

— John N. Clayton © 2023