Saturday, May 24, 2008

matters of life and death

When I was in college taking nursing training, the head of the department told us that we needed to determine our values then.  We needed to know where we stood on ethical issues so that when one came up, we wouldn't have to think about it.  It is a miry, confusing place - medical ethics.

I decided that I am for life.  I don't care about "quality of life"; that's not mine to judge.  I've just determined that everyone needs to be given the opportunity to live.  Life is the breath of God.   God breathed life into us and all humanity has that.  And no matter the quality of life, we each have only one.  I don't think its for us to decide anything about when it ends.   Besides, there's the whole slippery slope deal, but I don't want to talk about that.

It is always difficult for me when someone decides to "pull the plug" on someone.  Even when it looks hopeless.  But I try not to judge because I know that in most cases it's done out of love.  The Terry Shaivo case was a different story, but I don't want to talk about that.

Anyway.  It has been my decision that I won't pull anyone's plug and I do not want mine pulled because many times someone has been declared dead - even brain dead, and still survived.  

On the other hand, you can't keep someone on those machines indefinitely.  

The good news is that God is ultimately in control of life and death.  No matter how big for our britches we get - He is still God.  If it is time for someone to go, all of our interventions aren't going to make any difference.  If He still has a purpose for someone on earth -- if it isn't their time to go, then nothing we do can change that either.

*side note: I saw a story of a man who had shot himself point blank in the head and lived.  Not once, but two or three times.  Its absolutely heartbreaking that he was so desperate to die, but it shows that we don't have as much control over things as we think we do.*

Anyway, please go read this short, amazing story that demonstrates that diagnosing death isn't as cut and dry as we may think - and also the fact that it ain't time until God says its time.


  1. I agree with you totally. I just remember Gary on life support and all that stuff, and the Doctors couldn't even keep him going long enough for his brother to get to Denver. He was just gone, they knew it, but wanted the family to get to say goodbye. I believe that when you are gone you are gone. I want all the chances I can get to pull through, but I also don't want to bankrupt my family when I'm already gone. You do need to decide what you want before the time comes. I also want to be religious or anti-religious reason...just because I think that the funeral industry is a rip off at times. It's cheaper.

  2. What a miracle! Thanks for the blog and the link to the article.

  3. I want Kay in charge of me! :) But I want to be in charge of Julie. A recent story also about a man who had no brain activity and his brother got mad at him for dying and in frustration he pinched him on the arm and the patient pulled him arm away. He was still alive even though he showed no brain waves. Explain that. He is doing okay they say.

  4. I agree with you about choosing life and I agree with you that God is ultimately in control.

  5. I have so much to say about this that I decided not to say any more.


I love to hear your thoughts!