|Caring for Someone at the End of Life|
|Written by P.J. Southam & Martha Leatherman|
Practical things that you can do
Presbyterians Pro-Life believes that all innocent human life should be protected from conception until natural death. Since Roe v. Wade approximately 55 million pre-born children have been killed in the United States alone. One of the consequences of this is changing attitude and acceptance of assisted suicide for those at the end of life. In Europe there is even active euthanasia of those at the end of life. I can remember in the 1970s my grandfather telling me that making abortion legal in America would start us on the road to euthanasia. His foresight was accurate. Genocide may be coming next. Collin Brewer, a councilor (city council member) of Wadebridge East in North Cornwall, England, said that "Disabled children place too great a burden on the country's nationalized health care and other services and ought to be 'put down' to save money." 
Many of those who advocate for assisted suicide at the end of life do so for various reasons, primarily because they want to be in control of their own demise, rather than letting God be in control of it. Other reasons include loneliness and fear of pain. Christians can reach out in love to those suffering terminal illnesses. If we be with them this will help alleviate loneliness and assist them with managing pain. It may also give us an opportunity to witness to the God who holds our lives in his hand, and share our belief that God is real, and we aren't him. When the hospice care movement started over fifty years ago, it was started by Christians. End of life care is an opportunity for Christian mercy and caring.
Not everyone is a trained hospice caregiver. But there are things we can do for family members, loved ones, and friends. Here are some ways to care:
When visiting someone in the hospital:
When visiting someone in their own home:
Be prepared for your own emotions. Losing a loved one does hurt, and you will grieve. Allow yourself to. Being with someone at the end of their life does require bravery, because we want to protect ourselves from hurt, especially emotional hurt. Remember though that we have the hope of the resurrection to eternal life, and so we do not grieve as others do. We grieve with hope, and look forward to being reunited with those who have gone before us to the glory of the presence of our Savior Jesus Christ.
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The Rev. P.J. Southam is pastor of Big Creek Presbyterian Church in Hannibal, MO and a member of the Board of Directors of Presbyterians Pro-Life.
Dr. Martha Leatherman, M.D. specializes in Geriatic Psychiatry and serves on the Medical Advisory Board of Presbyterians Pro-Life.