Getting It Over With
What Euthanasia Steals from Us

John Stonestreet
March 28, 2014
Reproduced with Permission

We talked recently on BreakPoint about the push towards assisted suicide and how language is being manipulated to win acceptance for a horrible practice. Instead of using terms like "euthanasia" or "assisted suicide," advocates peddle the much-kinder sounding "aid in dying."

But there's more to say. Today I'd like to focus on how our hearts are being manipulated through a worldview that says nothing good can come from suffering - especially suffering unto death. And I'd like to do this primarily by telling a couple stories.

First story: My grandfather and grandmother have been married for more than 70 years. For years, they ran a dairy farm and delivered milk all over northern Virginia. Then because my grandmother was an incredible baker, they started a catering business. And my grandparents supported each other every step of the way. He was an accomplished pianist and church organist; she taught Sunday School for decades, and along the way they had two daughters, seven grandchildren, 17 great-grandchildren and even some great-greats. What an amazing life.

But for the last couple of weeks, my grandfather hasn't been able to get out of bed. The reality is, he's going to die soon. My grandmother has had no thought of "getting it over with." She's patiently, lovingly walking with her husband through the final days of his life. And she's not alone - my mother is there with them, even though she has to make numerous trips back and forth. Other friends and family members are helping as well.

My mother told me what many people in similar situations say: It's been difficult, but she wouldn't have traded these last days with her dad for anything. They're not "getting it over with"!

Story number two, from a coworker: His wife comes from a large family, and I mean large. Her mom had six brothers and sisters, her dad had nine. Well, her grandfather, George, was dying. The house where he and his wife, Marie, lived in had been the gathering place for all kinds of birthdays, holidays, and other things.

Now it would be a gathering place for his home going. His family decided, as he was growing weaker, that he would die at home. George wasn't in much pain, but it was hard for him to breathe. All kinds of people would go into the bedroom to visit and talk and sit by his bedside. They gave George palliative care, but that was it. And there was absolutely no thought of "getting it over with."

One day the pastor came. Years before, he and many other young shepherds would go to George and Marie's for dinner and just to get fussed over. So now, maybe 40 years later, the pastor came to say goodbye. He sat on the edge of the bed with George propped up and Marie sitting next to them. The room was filled with maybe 30 people. There were four generations of family members who stood or sat on the floor and listened to George, Marie, and the pastor talk about old times. There was smiling, laughing, and wiping away tears.

And George died a few days later.

"I get teary thinking of it," my colleague tells me. "I can't imagine not having had that evening."

Friends, euthanasia and assisted suicide will take these difficult but incredibly important moments away from us. We need these moments, to stretch our understanding of love, to deepen our relational thinking and to help our generation steward the heritage given to us by past generations. A culture that just wants to "get it over with" is a dehumanizing one.

It's hard for my grandfather to depend completely on others right now. But it's good for him, too, both to see people loving him and to let those people serve him. It's good for him to know his frailty as he prepares to meet God. And it's good for married couples to walk through the commitment that they made, "'til death do us part, as long as we both shall live."

Currently, five states allow assisted suicide, and Colorado may be poised to become the sixth. We can't let ourselves be manipulated by this culture of death. We must overwhelm it with life, one bedside at a time.