I got a call from a man today whose elderly mother was forced into a hospice against her wishes, manipulated in really. She was then given an opioid against her wishes and her son's wishes (he had the power of attorney for health care decisionmaking), and she died not too long after. To listen to the grief in a grown man's voice is not easy to do, and for him to share it, that wasn't easy either.
He was angry and in pain, suffering in many ways. And I've heard from many just like him, too many!
Family members whose loved one have been medically killed in a health care setting have the hardest time grieving, because they receive no validation from the agency that imposed that death, and many people around them doubt their story. This man was rejected for bereavement counseling even at a separate hospice where he went to get help. So, I listened and tried to do my best to support and comfort him, but how much can you do? Is it enough?
Survivors of war atrocities, bombings, and attacks of all sorts have fears that others know nothing about. And if they mention they survived "the war" (wherever it was), people understand enough to provide support and sympathy. Today, they know about post-traumatic stress disorder. Soldiers come back with it and so do the survivors of the war. They are forever changed, and they need help.
I am certain that family members whose loved ones have been killed suffer from a unique form of post-traumatic stress disorder. The rogue hospice agency in their community (often very well-respected) will not validate their experience; they will deny it "left and right." Many friends and acquaintances will look at them with disbelief: "my family used that hospice, and the care was fine," some may say. But remember, just because care was good for one patient doesn't guarantee it was good for another. And a rogue hospice, even a rogue hospice, will not provide bad care for every patient. They are sure to provide excellent care to some; that's how they build their reputation, their public "face."
Anyway, this man who saw his mother die asked me, "I notice that you have a lot about God on the website. Why is that?" He was not affiliated with any religion or denomination, but was searching for something. He didn't complain about it. He just asked about it. He believed in something, but was still questioning. And so we discussed many things.
Why I mention God? Because it matters. Life matters. Our loved ones matter, and our neighbors matter. And our neighbors are everyone on this Earth. We're all here together. Wherever I've traveled, I've found the richness of the human heart in the new friends I met. I didn't see lives that were less "worthy" than those at home. I saw people, just people, everywhere, just like at home. And they were "alive" just like people at home.
That life they have, we have, is given to us by God, the Creator. People today think that everyone should just shut up and keep silent about God and religion, but we must remember, the U.S. Constitution specifically guarantees us freedom of religion, freedom to express our religious faith in the public arena. It is only fairly recently in American history that religious expression has been aggressively targeted and squelched. Our founding fathers (and mothers) had tremendous faith in God. There were Protestants and a few Catholics involved with the founding documents of our nation. Some were "Deists." They may have disagreed about exactly what "God" was, but they believed in something.
And, they were not ashamed to mention God. Many modern writers have scrubbed the tremendous faith of the founders from the textbooks. But that does not erase the faith they had, who they were, and what that faith was about! It doesn't erase how our Declaration of Independence and Constitution are based in faith in the Creator. How ever much effort is put into censoring that truth, the truth remains.
And what is Hospice Patients Alliance about but providing the truth to the people about the standards of care, the life-affirming mission of Dame Cicely Saunders, exposing the perversion of that mission by rogue hospices, helping people get the best care and overcome obstacles. We cannot do that without the truth. We expose the damage caused and the evil inherent in imposed deaths through whatever means. We work to bring renewal and reform to the industry so the people find the care they need.
And for myself, I cannot find a reliable, firm rationale for affirming the sacredness of life without my faith in Him. Yes, there are agnostic rationales for being against assisted-suicide or imposed deaths of various means, but human reasoning can be used to justify saving life or ending life; it all depends upon what assumptions you accept, what facts you take into consideration, and what your values are. Logic alone will not protect people.
Plato may be considered a great logician by some, but he was a eugenicist who believed an elite group should decide who lives, who dies and who should even procreate or be born. If you really think about his ideas, you may realize his well-respected status may not be completely justified. A great thinker is not the same thing as being great in service to mankind. Some of Plato's ideas have brought terrible suffering to millions.
The Nazis used logic in their own ways, and certainly would agree with Plato about eugenics and euthanasia. They provided eloquent explanations of what they believed and did, but it was not founded upon faith in the Creator, and was diametrically-opposed to the sanctity of life. If life was "up," then they were "down." Their way of viewing the world was the embodiment of the "culture of death" and diametrically-opposed to the American Constitutional values that respect the right to life ... yes, "right to life" is in our founding documents.
We are seeing a renewed "culture of death" with its "right to death" sweeping across our nation, in the casual way hastening of death is occurring here. Many don't even think they are "hastening death" when they do, they have been so indoctrinated. Or if they recognize that they are hastening death, they tell themselves that they are just "letting go," when they overdose a patient or terminally-sedate a patient.
I can't separate my faith from my life. I grew up in an atheistic home environment and spent my early years seeking an answer. Anyone who knows me knows that I've read hundreds of books and spent much time in prayer and searching. And the more I searched, the more I realized the beauty of this Creation before us. I looked around and saw that science revealed the infinite complexity of all of nature, yet that infinite complexity was perfectly organized according to "laws of nature" that science is continually discovering.
That perfect organization doesn't need science for it to exist, just as a branch falling in a forest with nobody around to hear it, still makes "sound" waves. The reality pre-exists science's discovery of a tiny bit of that reality. And compared to an infinite universe, whatever we know is truly, tiny. I realized it is not possible for us to "throw spaghetti at the wall" and have it look like the Mona Lisa painting. It just doesn't happen. You need a master painter, a Leonardo da Vinci to create it.
Yet, we have been told that out of chaos, life developed "by chance" and then just kept on evolving over time. One thing science has always shown is the organization of all matter, whether living or not. Where does that perfectly organized, infinitely complex order come from? I'm talking about the perfect organization seen at every level down to the most microscopic particles, even seen with electron microscopes or detected through science that even electron microscopes can't see. I'm talking about the perfect organization and arrangement of stars and galaxies and planets out to the farthest reaches of space. Perfect organization.
The perfect organization of a flower, a cell, a gene, a human life. It can't just be "thrown on the wall," figuratively speaking, and then just happens. And how do you explain "love?" Is it just a chemical process in the brain or something more?
Even if in one in a quadrillion chances it somehow "happened" that a basic amino acid or something was formed, why would it keep together, stay together, reproduce itself and keep surviving? Why wouldn't that "chance" formation of a basic amino acid or something, just disappear? Why persist? Why not go back to the primordial "soup" that materialists speak about? It didn't. There was a Master, a Creator that made that perfect organization happen. That may be hard to accept for some, but anything else doesn't make sense at all. Anyone who wants to argue with me about it will have to explain how you can throw spaghetti at the wall (or some globs of oil paint) and come up with the Mona Lisa!
You may not call the reason for life "God," but I do. I can't throw "matter at the wall" and come up with this perfect universe. You can't throw auto parts at the wall and get a Mercedes Benz! Something is happening here. Something much, much more.
Science cannot answer the questions of "why?" things happen. It answers "how?" about things that it detects, observes, analyzes. It doesn't explain what the purpose of life is. It can describe what is involved in the living organisms, but cannot say exactly "what" life is. To assert that "life" is only what is observed is beyond the sphere of science, and scientists and doctors should know better than to assert that they "know" based on measurements and analysis of what they see before them.
In those early years, I was suffering, thirsty for something. Life was unbearable to me without "something," but I didn't know what it was, and finally, I found "Something."
I opened myself to see the beauty of this Creation and sought an answer and when I looked into the eyes of those I loved, I saw consciousness. I saw love and all matter of other emotions. I saw something special, something sacred. And when I reached out and kept reaching out, eventually I glimpsed a tiny bit of His glory and knew that I was nothing aside from Him. Not "nothing," but nothing without Him.
John 7:37 "On the last and greatest day of the Feast, Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, "If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink."
And I feel Him with me, guiding me, inspiring me. I remember being put-off by those who prayed loudly, and I still sometimes prefer inward prayer. I can understand why some may be offended if I mention Him. The doubting mind may feel threatened by a distorted project of what He is like. They think He is just there to condemn them, but that is not true. He is here to love us and fulfill us!
Now, my faith, it's all gone inside somehow, like a fire raging within a furnace, bringing warmth within. And I forget and get caught up in things just as anyone does. But then I'm reminded and remember.
I couldn't express it all if I ever tried, but it peeks out sometimes. I can't help it. I feel such joy and gratefulness and blessedness to feel His love. You might laugh at me if you were to see me driving down the street often with tears streaming down my face as I thank God for His love. So, I do know people ask, "why do you mention God?"
I ask, why not? I am not ashamed of Him. The truth is the truth. People all around the world seek Him in all sorts of different ways. I've traveled all over the world and met wonderful people, kind people.
People hate religion sometimes, and hate God too, because they believe "religion causes war." That is untrue. People who are greedy, selfish, power-mongering, arrogant and cruel cause wars. Whatever the religion, it is only these types who cause the wars.
We must care about each other. I know He cares about each patient we serve, whether the tiny babies in the womb, infants, children, adults or the elderly. He cares about the disabled, even if many disabled don't want to hear "prolife" reasons to protect their rights (I think their rejection of "prolifers" is a mistake). I've looked into the eyes of the dying, of the very elderly and see the same sacred spark of consciousness looking back at me. Have you? Have you worked with the patients or volunteered to help out?
St. Paul tells us:
Acts 20:35 "In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: 'It is more blessed to give than to receive.'"
When you see a patient, do you really know everything about them? The wonderful achievements and contributions they may have made? Do you know that they may have raised a doctor, lawyer or scientist who helped many? Or taught children and opened their eyes to the wonders of learning? Or helped and comforted many? You look and see a pale reflection of what they once were, but they are still here. You see a body laying on a bed, and they need to be fed or bathed or helped to "go to the bathroom." We who are nurses know they are still valuable. Their life is more than "valuable." Hopefully, we can remember that when we work.
So, you ask why do I mention Him. The dear Lord I know has blessed me and I can't help but mention Him.
And that is the essence of what I told the man who called me today. I care about him, just as I care about the patients we serve. What else are we supposed to do if not that, today and tomorrow? Even when we feel tired and don't want to hear about it, we must do something.
Today, there are dark clouds over many people. Many suffering. There is too much suffering that we as a people have created on this Earth. We can do our part, in our own circle, in our own way, to relieve that suffering and share our love with others. We must.