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The Tricky Thing about Dying

By Judie Brown

For most of us, our aging and vulnerable loved ones are at the forefront of our minds these days. We confront the unseen enemy with faith in God and the will to do our best to protect each other.

But there is another side to this challenging situation.

The current pandemic has created health problems for many, including the elderly, but it has also created macabre opportunities among the death-care professionals.

Registered nurse Nancy Valko recently described one of many pro-euthanasia pandemic beneficiaries: “Compassion & Choices, formerly known as the Hemlock Society, promotes assisted suicide, voluntary stopping of eating and drinking (VSED) and terminal sedation. During the pandemic it has created a COVID-19 tool kit with a special COVID-19 addendum to add to an existing advance directive to refuse care if a person gets COVID-19.”

In addition, Alex Schadenberg reported that a Massachusetts assisted-suicide bill could be fast-tracked for a vote in the state’s legislature. But not everyone agrees with that strategy. The disability rights group Second Thoughts Massachusetts stated: “It is wrong to move a bill at a time when those who will be harmed are on lockdown due to COVID-19, depriving us of the opportunity to fully address in person this threat to our health and well-being.” 

Opportunistic? Of course, but also potentially deadly for many, including at-risk citizens represented by organizations like Second Thoughts Massachusetts.

In an article entitled “The Time Is Right for a Community-Based Palliative Care Benefit,” Hospice News relates: “Community-based palliative care can reduce total health care costs by 36%, a Turn-Key Health paper indicated. These services can also reduce hospital admissions by 48%, resulting in 28% cost savings per patient day. . . . Home-based palliative care could reduce societal health care costs by $103 billion within the next 20 years.”

And so the article went, focused on saving money by using community-based provision of services that can result in a patient’s premature death.

Note as well that Diane Meier of the Center to Advance Palliative Care has launched a new “Tipping Point Challenge” aimed at inviting organizations to compete for national recognition because of their innovative approaches to addressing patients with serious illness and “unmet needs.”

While the unsuspecting citizen might be heartened to hear of all this innovation allegedly being done for the vulnerable and the dying, not all of us are gullible. Having battled these forces for some years, we are aware of the unstated mission among some of them: hastening death without causing alarm!

When we look beneath the veneer, we find a systematic effort to normalize what was once a verboten conversation regarding how to help a suffering loved one die according to someone else’s agenda, never God’s.

When Dr. Elizabeth Wickham wrote “COVID-19 and the Promotion of Euthanasia,” she said that Meier, a facilitator of the third path to euthanasia, is an expert at presenting palliative care as an urgent part of any discussion about end-of-life care. And Wickham’s research has shown that Meier, like her collaborators, has a long history of promoting euthanasia. She says of Meier and her peers:

“It is no longer safe to assume that palliative care is still just about treating a patient’s symptoms. If that were so, why would there be a need for an entirely new subspecialty in medicine administered by a multidisciplinary team?”

The tricky thing about dying is that, while death cannot be avoided, those who want to make sure you or your loved one die early under the guise of pain relief should not be given automatic permission. Some of them intend evil. Know your facts. Understand that expressions of real love never include helping someone die.

These words of St. John Paul II may be the very salve that heal the souls of those who remain with a loved one as he suffers:

Christ said: “You did it to me.” He himself is the one who in each individual experiences love; he himself is the one who receives help, when this is given to every suffering person without exception. He himself is present in this suffering person, since his salvific suffering has been opened once and for all to every human suffering. 

There is no tricky thing about dying when Christ is seen in the suffering loved one.