Archive for Death

The 6th Commandment and Hospice

Commandments

Doesn’t hospice break the 6th commandment?

Or, to be King James Version about it: Thou Shalt Not _____.

By background, I’m a pastor. Early in my career, I attended a gathering where several irked clergy colleagues argued over the language of the Commandments. In the original Hebrew, did #6 in God’s “top ten” mean murder or kill or both? Ministers may endlessly debate meanings and theological viewpoints, but for some families confronted with end-of-life choices for loved ones, they see little difference between the words.

I often tell sweet stories about all the wonderful stuff that hospice can do for patients while they are dying, for families as they care for a loved one, and for the survivors as they grieve a beloved.

But others will tell different stories. If it’s not hospice will kill you, it could be they will over-medicate you, and you’ll be: too doped up or too hyper or become addicted to drugs or . . . Read More →

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How Long Have You Been Playing?

At the net

A man and a woman were several courts over… [Photo Credit: Getty IMages/Tim Clayton]

In hospice, time rules.

A hospital’s old-fashioned wall clock’s blood-red second hand seems to circle faster than a Daytona racecar. Or in the dark of the darkest night at home, a blue, glowing digital number blinks from one second to another with an agonizing sluggishness. Time roars by. Time grinds to a halt. Time marches on. Time freezes. Time is our friend. Time is our adversary. Time never stops. It’s never the right time.

  • How long will it take for her to die? I don’t want Grammy to suffer anymore.
  • The doctor said Daddy has six months or less to live. Is that true?
  • This grief is horrible, and I can’t sleep or eat. How long before I’m “normal” again?
  • Some friends don’t like to spend time with me because I still want to talk about my spouse. And it’s only been a year since the death.
  • My boss gave me two weeks off for bereavement, but will I ever be ready to return to my desk?
  • Who can grieve with so much work to do? (And if I keep working all of the time, I can avoid my feelings.)

*          *          *

Many years ago, I headed to the public tennis courts to play a few sets with a buddy. Though early in the morning, we weren’t the only ones there. A man and woman were several courts over, already deep into a match. As my friend and I warmed up, we heard the other players announce the score after each winning shot, saw them protect the net or drift back for lobs. It looked like an equal contest and I wouldn’t want to bet against the woman or the man. I was impressed, more than a little awed by their skill and energy. Both were obviously in their seventies. Read More →

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Comparing That Death to This Death

Robin Williams and Matt Damon in 1997’s Good Will Hunting.

Which death is the most difficult to death with? On the list below, which person should be in “better shape” and has probably “moved on” in their life?

  • Her child was stillborn. It’s a year since the death.
  • His grandmother died from dementia. It’s a year since the death.
  • Their teen was killed in a traffic accident. It’s a year since the death.
  • Children gather to honor a father’s birthday. It’s a year since the death.
  • She lays a Christmas wreath on her husband’s grave. It’s a year since the death.

How would you rank them? (Should you rank them?)

Unfortunately, I think many folks—including me—publicly or privately rank the severity of another’s person’s situation. We compare and contrast with other facets of life: careers, homes, our child’s achievements, cars, last year’s vacation, and so forth. Advertising relentlessly reinforces judgment, from the new solar panels on the neighbor’s roof to the newest smartphone in a classmate’s hand. The people beside you or across the street or in the pharmaceutical commercial are better off than you. (Or, whew, they are a smidgen worse than you!)

If we compare the things of life, why not compare the ways of death? Read More →

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