Primary Care Physician
Dr. Orrange received her BA in Biology at the University of California, San Diego, and a Masters Degree in Health Sciences at the Johns Hopkins University School of Public Health. She received her MD from the USC Keck School of…
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Religious Faith and Decisions at the end of life; not what you would expect
Posted in Abstinence & Ce... by Dr. Sharon Orrange on Mar 21, 2009

As someone who is not a person of strong religious faith, I have always appreciated that religious faith provides many with great comfort during the end of life. Many of my patients who believe strongly in God rely on their faith to cope with cancer and other terminal illnesses.  From my perspective religious faith should serve to comfort patients who believe in God and Heaven (or some sort of afterlife) during death and dying and perhaps allow them to accept death more easily. I have also seen in my 13 years of practicing medicine that I am unable to predict decisions patients and their families make at the end of life.

The largest study to look at religious faith and intensive life prolonging measures was just published in the March 18th Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) and should get us all talking.  The authors set out to determine the way religious coping relates to the use of intensive life-prolonging end-of-life care among patients with advanced cancer.

What I would expect: According to theorists, and what I have believed as a Physician, religious coping can offer patients a sense of meaning, comfort, control, and personal growth while facing life-threatening illness. Religious coping refers to how a patient makes use of his or her religious beliefs to understand and adapt to stress....relying on faith ("seeking Gods love and care") to adapt. Research, and my own experience as a Physician, also indicates that religious factors affect medical decisions at the end of life. As an example of this, in a recent survey of 1006 members of the general public 57.4% believed that God could heal a patient even if physicians had pronounced further medical efforts to be futile.

What we know: Religiousness and religious coping have been associated with increased preference for cardiopulmonary resuscitation, mechanical ventilation, hospitalization near death and heroic end-of-life measures. This seems contrary to me.

What was this study all about?  Data from the Coping with Cancer Study were used to examine patient's use of positive religious coping and the receipt of intensive medical care during the last week of life.   A 14 item questionnaire assessed to what extent patients engage in 7 types of positive religious coping and 7 types of negative religious coping.  Examples of positive religious coping would be that it helps them cope "to a moderate extent or more" with their illness, and that "it is the most important thing that keeps you going."  Additionally, positive religious coping may include engaging in times of prayer, meditation or religious study at least daily.

What kinds of questions did this study ask about end-of life-care and heroics?  Patients were asked: if you could chose, would you prefer 1) a course of treatment that focused on extending life as much as possible even if it meant more pain and discomfort or 2) A plan of care that focused on relieving pain and discomfort as much as possible even if it meant not living as long.  Heroic measures are those where the patient wants the doctors to do everything possible to keep you alive even if you were going to die in a few days anyway.

What did we find out? A high level of positive religious coping was associated with receipt of mechanical ventilation, intensive life-prolonging measures in the last week of life, cardiopulmonary resuscitation, heroic measures, and death in the intensive care unit. 

Take home message from this study:  Patients with advanced cancer rely heavily on religion to cope with their illness and that greater use of positive religious coping is associated with the receipt of intensive life-prolonging medical care near death.

Why might this be?  I am not sure. Is it that religious copers choose aggressive therapies because they believe that God could use the therapy to provide divine healing? Do they hope for a miracle while intensive medical care prolongs life?  Do they trust that God could heal them through the proposed treatment?  Is it believed that only God knows a patient's time to die? The problem I have with some of the above theories is that heroics are an unnatural prevention of the natural process of dying and I hope we all understand that.

In this I believe:  I have been with patients of all cultures and religion through death and dying.  I have always been sensitive to the influence of religious coping on medical decisions and goals of care at the end of life. I care about these findings because aggressive end-of-life care has been associated with poor quality of death and caregiver bereavement adjustment in SEVERAL studies, and in my 13 years of doing this I believe this to be true. From a financial perspective spending an enormous percentage of healthcare costs on the intensive care in the last week of life is incredibly painful while we watch so many struggle to get primary care needs met.  What it comes down to for me is when I speak to patients I have known for years who are facing death and ask how they see the end of their life playing out never once have I heard someone tell me they wish to be in an ICU, on a ventilator, with IVs, catheters and other invasive procedures going on to the last minute. Not once.  For those of us who have been there to resuscitate someone aggressively, per their wishes, who has no chance of surviving it will forever change the way I look at this. I want for my patients what I want for myself: to be at home or in a place they love, free from pain and anxiety, surrounded by friends and family.

Thoughts?

Dr O.

 

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59
Amen..I agree with your last sentence 100 percent.
By toria53  Apr 04, 2009
58
It seems to me that the more technologically advanced a society, the fewer rituals that exist around the dying process. In the eastern cultures, there are many rites of passage that the dying go through that families explore with them. Death is not a taboo topic. Dying is not prolonged. It is treated like a natural process, no different from birth. It is a new beginning as well as an ending.

We seem to be so afraid of death in the West. Like you say, we so often demand heroic measures that end up prolonging death not life. We want neat, tidy, antiseptic passages. This does not honour death or the dying. It makes taboos of such a natural process.

Although I know religion does play a role in the west, it does seem to be more about avoiding death or dealing with the aftermath of it. It doesn't seem to be hands on in the actual rite of passage. It appears to me to be more of a cultural phenomena that is left up to doctors to manage discreetly.

While watching a documentary on death the world over, I saw a beautiful scene in India, where a dying man was washed by his family, in a holy river. They cried with him and loved him and told him how much he'd be missed. They didn't pressure him to stay. They simply released him. It was so beautiful.

So much of the dying I've experienced in Canadian hospitals has been so impersonal and sanitary; tubes and machines and pain. I just don't see the dignity in dying this way.

Of course, I believe in euthanasia and dying with dignity. I believe I should have the right to choose the time of my passing, if I developed a terminal disease.
By bato  Apr 03, 2009
57
You are right! God is the answer even though my faith is weak I know he is there. God bless you. eittod
By eittod  Mar 29, 2009
56
The study *does* sound counter intuitive, doesn't it? I suspect that it is our society's view of death that makes Americans afraid of it.

It would be interesting to replicate the study in a different culture to see if the results are the same.

I would much rather live my final days and hours with dignity rather than die a prolonged death attached to a bunch of machines that merely keeps my body alive. I believe that there is some sort of afterlife for our spirits. Life on this Earth and in this body is just a transitionary stage. This belief gives me the courage to just let go when it is my time to die.
By Element5  Mar 28, 2009
55
Thank you for your response Dr Orrange. I'm sure you are a very dedicated medical professional, and I didn't mean to sound disprespectful. I do realise that you work a lot to support and help people who are sick and sufering, and I commend you. Discussions about death and dying are naturally very emotive though...

I've reflected a lot on some wonderful and interesting comments here, and we can all learn from others' experiences.

I did indeed misinterpret - that you were not referring to elderly religious patients. I am a believer in God, and I personally would not want invasive treatments, nor would I wish to die in ICU, nor would anyone want that as the ideal I'm sure. To explain my responses and reiterate, I just find it disturbing that patients and their families who request "heroic measures" should be made to feel they're draining the system. (I actually live in Australia!)

I didn't realise that when a person's body shuts down it is not beneficial to feed them. But I'd like to think their mouths were kept moist in their last days - a practice you believe in which is compassionate (wish all practitioners did). Another friend of mine's mother awoke from a coma just before she passed, eyes wide open and spoke to her son - babbling on for quite some time (her last words). He explained to me that he couldn't understand anything she said due to her mouth and tongue being so dry. I guess it's like Psalm 22:- (for those religious or otherwise)

15) My strength is dried up like a potsherd,
and my tongue sticks to the roof of my mouth;
you lay me in the dust of death.

19) But you, O LORD, be not far off;
O my Strength, come quickly to help me.

and, John 19:28-30 :- Later, knowing that all was now completed, and so that the Scripture would be fulfilled, Jesus said, "I am thirsty." A jar of wine vinegar was there, so they soaked a sponge in it, put the sponge on a stalk of the hyssop plant, and lifted it to Jesus' lips. When he had received the drink, Jesus said, "It is finished." With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.

~~~

I recall a recent conversation with a Pastoral Worker at a Catholic hospital. She told me that a great deal of their work is ensuring family pray for their dying loved ones to be given the grace of peace and acceptance. The old practice of patients being visited by the particular priest or pastor or spiritual figure of their own religion at hospital seems a resource that could be underemphasized nowadays. (I also think Hospice workers are absolutely wonderful, and so many people I know look on many nurses as "angels", myself included.) Please don't misunderstand me anyone, I value highly the devotion, tiring work of medical staff and the pressures they are under. But many of our medical systems are under-resourced, and I think that is very sad.

Basically though, when is our time really up? Seeing the discussion is about perspectives of religious people - Jesus healed many who were dying, and restored their life. We believe God gave the gift of healing to doctors and other medical people also - to a certain degree. It's all up to the individual and their faith, and to God really - in my opinion...

One last case:- My beautiful cousin, who is 60 yrs (looks 40), has suffered Chron's Disease for many years - it developed into bowel cancer and then secondary cancer in her liver. She is a fighter, and pursued every treatment, 2/3rds of her liver being removed, then undertaking naturopathic treatments, meditation, special diets, etc.. and prayer - herself and we her family! During her difficult treatment time, she quietly vowed to offer her suffering for relief of the souls in Purgatory (never told anyone - just that I know). She is Irish-descent Catholic, as are most of our family. She is now blooming, three years on and has received excellent reports. (I understand that with this type of cancer most people are given less than six months to live?) She is very physically active, a member of a bowling club, and has had several trips to Europe, with more planned. Miracles do happen!!

Basically, when Death calls, some are ready to accept, others aren't!

And I'd like to express to "MoroseMary" that whilst her great grandfather may have been a nasty sour old man, my cousin (who is very quietly religious) is one of the most beautiful souls God put on this earth, and to lose her would be a great loss to the many people who know and love her. She is close to a saint actually - and her courage is inspiring! I have never heard her speak one nasty word about another living soul in all her days - it would be a great loss to not have her around, so I'm glad she fought to live!! Her extensive tests, lengthy operation and after-care would have cost the government and we tax-payers heaps (not that I would have ever thought of that) - but it was worth every cent!!
By PaulaPMP  Mar 27, 2009
54
I am not a religious person, nor do i affilate myself with any form of religion, or religious teaching, for my own reasons. My great grandfather, a bitter nasty sour old man, died, a year ago. he passed away in the hospital after he had a major heart attack. he was 94 years old.

so the church service came et cetera, and i never knew he was such a religious man. i saw many people there, praying et cetera, and wishing my great grandmother the best as "God," had accept Albert (my great grandfather) into heaven.

i have to admit i couldn't understand how that brought comfort to my great grandmother. she accepted their comments and hugs with open arms and said thank-you. i thought it was absoutly absurd that these people are trying to tell her its okay that Albert died. i thought it was rude, to let her know that its okay, that he is living in the after life.

i for one am not a believer, and believe that when death comes, its the end, we die, we no longer exist, we are just rotting decay of nothing. you then only exist in your loved one's memories.

i watched though, how she composed herself, with those ignorant comments in my opinon. i thought it was rude to give her false hope, and to let her think that. i thoguht it was wrong, in fact i was thoroughly disgusted, with their acts of kidness.

when i and other finally got my great grandmother away from people trying to wish her luck, i asked her point blank how she could accept such comments. she laughed a mousey laugh, which was tainted with alot of sorrow and greif and sadness, and she replied:

"[inster my name here] i do not care what they believe. they mean well, and i accept their meaning wellness. if Albert is in heaven, then he is in heaven, if he is not, and is in a void of nothing, and ceases to exist, then that is it as well. i do not know what happens when we die. but i do know others deal with things in different ways. you deal with your own mortality in the thought of nothing, and be absored into nothing. Albert believed he went to heaven, just as those other people did. i say deal with it the way you want to, but no one truly knows."

i still refuse to believe in a "God," Because if i believe in a "God," then i would ave to give up my own personal power, power that i hold for myself. i give up the power to choose for myself. the power to be an individual. i give up the power to sin, without asking for forgiveness, for my mistake. i don't care to be honest, what anyone believes, we all find comfort in something. i think if someone finds comfort with the bible and friends, and family so be it. if others do not. so be it. we live in a world of choice. oppurtunities. freedoms. we all deserve to choose the way we go out, no matter what it is. we all deseve to choose how we have comfort no matter what it is.

there is no room for judgement at death in my opinion, because our lives are full of it. from other people.

birth and death, should be met with both joyous celeberation, and mourning. we celerberate the birth of a new life, but we mourn the fact that they too may die, some time, and that we will watch them grow up, to be such splendid people. death should be celeberated, that their lives are celeberated, and that they are celeberated and cared for and no longer suffer; they should be mourned, because when they were small, we watched them walk. we watched them talk. we watch them learn. date. love. grow up. get a job. and do so much. we watched them play their first musicical instrutment. read their first book. ride their bike for their first time. we watch them get married, and then we watch them pass.

life . . . and death, are the beginings and the ends of one persons life. but in it all in my opinion, one person goes another is born. in death there is life. and in misery there is hope.

take care

Morose-Mary
By MoroseMary  Mar 26, 2009
53
Hi Paula - I am glad Dr. O responded to you as I too wondered why you assumed why she was talking about the elderly. My mother was 42 when we elected to
withdraw life support and she died. I was 42 too when I confronted the possibility that I would die from my cancer. I watched my 36 y/o cousin die of AIDS, and my 38 y/o friend with a 4 y/o son die of the same cancer I had. I have also met children with terminal illnesses, facing death with surprising wisdom and acceptance.

Dr. O - I would not be wasting my time making comments here if I didn't feel what you are saying is important. You talk both about "honoring the path they have chosen" and about wasting resources on heroic measures that don't improve quality of death. I agree this is a discussion we should have, but I think there is more here than meets the eye. I've struggled with these same questions - first in the abstract, and later as a cancer survivor. I could not understand why anyone would chose invasive procesures until somewhere along the line I began to see that for some people "hope" (not matter how unrealistic) is a component of quality of life. Without "hope" the dying process becomes unbearable. While I don't have all the answers, I think 122 days before death (the average time to death in this study) is way too late to change the way people cope with dying. My 38 y/o friend felt her oncologist led her on, encouraging her to try brutal treatment after treatment, until the day he said he couldn't do anything more. She felt "betrayed" that she spent the last year of her life undergoing treatments that destroyed all quality of life. Her last few days of suffering were nothing compared to what she had already been through. I am rambling a bit but hope you will think about what I am saying. For someone who has gone through cancer treatments for months or even years while doctors dangled a carrot of hope before their eyes, what's a few more days? So maybe instead of looking at just those last few days of life reseachers should look at the whole process that starts with the cancer diagnosis.
By notagaintoo  Mar 26, 2009
52
PaulaPMP
thanks for your comments
Interesting that you interpreted my not wanting to spend huge resources on heroic measures (medically futile measures most of the time) as not wanting to spend money on elderly people. Read back my blog, not once do I mention elderly patients in this blog, I dont even think about age when it comes to how hard I'll work or how far I'll go with someone..its about quality of life and quality of death no matter what the age--its about honoring the path they have chosen to take...no matter what the age....but I think as a country in financial crisis (and even before that) we need to talk about the resources we spend in the last week of life...often resources spent on invasive procedures and intensive care that don't change outcome and as Ive mentioned dont improve quality of death. That's a discussion we must have
Dr O.
By DrOrrange  Mar 25, 2009
51
Who is the "you" you're talking to, Ark01? Dr. Orrange?
By Laniana  Mar 25, 2009
50
i think its ...... beautiful that you understand.... or..... sorry i have difficulty explaining feelings sometimes....... its just...... i.... i understand how that feels. how frusterating. how overwhelmingly huge a problem it is to fix.... how can we show a massive amount of ppl how much they are hurting others? do they honestly even care? do they even TRY to listen to their own messages? i was agnostic all my life until 1 year ago. what makes me saddest is that.... jesus was a beautiful person full of beautiful ideas, and i have personally seen so much ugliness from ppl wearing his name like an immunity-pass so i am too biased for my opinion of those ppl to be worth anything. i dont think i can help cause its hard for me to believe they will be willing to listen open mindedly. its hard to believe those ppl will ever care to change irreguardless of who get hurt. i wish i could say they were fixable and they would stop causing pain, by draining life-saving money or attacking any child that wants to postpone an accedental pregnancy, or by hundreds of other disgusting ways that their narrow minded extremist culture maims lives. Jesus/Mohammed/Luther, so many amazingly beautiful hearts in our world have been corrupted into the ugliest of associations. what is beautiful about you is that u have tolerated it so gracefully. you havent insulted, you havent blamed, you havent retaliated against that narrow-mindedness, and for that.... wether or not it has meaning.... for that jesus would have been proud of you. and all the other great "Knights of Love and Openness". i know thats a corny name for them, but i think my point is communicated.

fyi: "The Matrix" and current neuro-digital interfacing technology helped cracked open my spiritual window of suspended disbelief that manifested itself into some priceless inspirational experiences. the world is very heavy, as a healer, maybe you know in ways others cant possibly, just how heavy the four letters L-I-F-E are, and you should be proud of urself for carrying it. but know your limits. temporarily sit all that weight down once a week, for 2-4 hours, or as need, and schedule with me in a month ~.^
By Ark01  Mar 25, 2009
49
I've read before that when people's loved ones are dying, they associate giving the person who is dying food with caring for them. Which would be true in most situations. But when someone's body is starting to shutdown and it's getting close for them to die, feeding them doesn't accomplish anything. If anything, that's more about making the people left behind feel better about themselves than it is about actually doing anything helpful for the person dying. So in that sense, yes, there are costs that are incurred for the sake of soothing the conscience's of the loved ones, not the person in need of care.

The phrase "Life is a terminal illness" comes to mind. It sounds a bit morbid, that's true. But we go out of our way to make death something evil, something that's not supposed to be talked about even though it's impossible to escape it's inevitability. Which is why religion becomes such a strong crutch to hold onto later on in life: You realize your own mortality and become aware of all the things you took for granted. The afterlife becomes something to look forward to as another chance to be with your loved ones, a chance to be together. Death becomes a transition, not a destination if there is life beyond death.

Someone earlier said "Without God there is no hope." Could it be that there is hope without there having to be a higher power involved? But in order for us to see it, we have to get away from this notion that we live on a disposable planet, and that as long as the earth survives as long as we exist, everything will be okay. Religion removes personal responsibility. It says that as long as -you- do your little rituals and say your prayers, you will be taken care of when you die. But it removes the impetus to make changes here and now while you're alive.

Perhaps that's why some people are reluctant to go? Regret that they didn't do more while they had a chance, or maybe it's out of fear that they didn't say enough rosaries and they'll have to spend eternity wondering what they could have done differently.

Or maybe it's more basic than that. We all lived for a few months in our mothers then we were born. Some people never get over that initial degree of change, it's just too much. Maybe the change that death proposes to bring is just one change too many as it leaves few options as to how to avoid it or gripe about it, so they cling onto what they know and what they are comfortable with rather than find out if their belief has any real weight.
By Meshugganah  Mar 25, 2009
48
My God doesn't need heroic efforts to do His work, whatever that might be.
By crowe60  Mar 25, 2009
47
"From a financial perspective spending an enormous percentage of healthcare costs on the intensive care in the last week of life is incredibly painful while we watch so many struggle to get primary care needs met. What it comes down to for me is when I speak to patients I have known for years who are facing death and ask how they see the end of their life playing out never once have I heard someone tell me they wish to be in an ICU, on a ventilator, with IVs, catheters and other invasive procedures going on to the last minute. Not once. For those of us who have been there to resuscitate someone aggressively, per their wishes, who has no chance of surviving it will forever change the way I look at this. I want for my patients what I want for myself: to be at home or in a place they love, free from pain and anxiety, surrounded by friends and family."

It's obvious Dr Orrange that you view elderly dying patients requesting extreme measures to prolong their lives a drain on financial resources -I find this incredibly disturbing!

It sounds nice to say that you wish your patients to be able to die peacefully at home as you would wish for yourself, but doesn't it depend on what the patient him/herself wants, and the circumstances of their medical requirements? Maybe they think they're going to go home after the treatment? And it's nice to know that you give your patients ice-chips if they request it, but what about if they're unable to request it? Shouldn't all dying, starving, dehydrated patients be naturally given ice-chips - and regularly?

The 82-year-old father of another girlfriend of mine (religious - yes) didn't realise he was going to die, until some tactless medical person told him. He had naively thought before this that after treatment, he was going home. But after the information, he became distressed and kept asking "How long have I got? How long have I got?" He would have wanted to die at home, but had no choice! Hope he didn't cost the hospital too much money!!

And when we all get to that stage, and are on our death beds, let's hope those caring for us are merciful, and we don't have to feel we're draining the Health System or taking a bed that could go to a younger person. Surely we all have a right to die in peace, and we've contributed many years of life and richness to this world, and we should be able to go in our own time, without being rushed or pressured, and don't we deserve that respect and honour and dignity?
By PaulaPMP  Mar 25, 2009
46
First I want to reiterate what 45 (notagaintoo) said, that it's still only a small percentage who choose extreme measures. Second, I think there would be many reasons why a religious person would be loathe to die--some would have hope in a cure beyond normal expectation, or some, believing in God and judgement, would be more afraid to die. Some of the strongly religious people I know believe life is sacred and putting a monetary value on it is horrific. Personally, I don't believe I'd want extreme measures, but who knows how I'd react when the time came & I saw my little daughter's face peeping over the bed at me? After all, some people do live well after having been given extreme measures (even if they're not the majority).
By Laniana  Mar 24, 2009
45
Love your comments, Zundapman.

I haven't read the study but I read the abstract. As I understand it, they questioned 345 patients. 11.3% of the religious patients vs 3.6% of the non-religious wanted ventilation, and 13.6% of religious vs 4.2% of non-religious patients wanted other life-prolonging measures. So, if that's correct, the vast majority of patients in the study, whether religious or non-religious, did not want heroic measure. The problem with these studies is that, even when numbers are statistically signicant, they really tell you very little about individuals. When I was diagnosed with cancer, science and statistics were my religion. Now I'm an agnostic, lol.
By notagaintoo  Mar 24, 2009
44
I'm not sure the "strong relicous faith" folks are correctly differentiated in most studies like this. I'm the son of an only child minister's daughter. My grandfather preached sermons against the funeral industry before and during the Great Depression when he saw first hand the negative economic consequences, and led by example by having his body cremated and no ceremonies performed. He even set up an organization to promote this practice among others of a liberal religious tradition.

My wife and I, in anticipation of the catostrophic impacts human population explosion promoted by many traditional faiths, chose not to have children, in part because neither one of us felt that "passing on our genes" was going to be a significant contribution to the race, and we both have fairly common human imperfections, allergy, tendency for hypertension, predisposition to formation of placque causing senile demntia, genetic defects in tooth eruption, childhood keytosis, etc, etc.

In a sense, we have chosen to "live lightly on the planet" by not contributing more than the environmental impact of our own lives to the burdens which will be faced by humanity going forward. In the face of predicatable catostrophic planetary consequences, we focus on simplified, short-term, specifics and "trust in God" with respect to issues we clearly have been told by science we must and can control.

A cost-benefit analysis of expnditures which might improve "quality of life" for the common good of humanity, would clearly preclude much of what is being devoted to heroic end-of-life care, and probably recommend redirecting the resources toward comprehensive well-structured worldwide birth control education/promotion/advocacy and the elimination of economic incentives associated with procreation in most developed societies and efforts in developing societies to change practices and eventually move in the same direction.

My father finally literally sarved himself to death in a loosing battle with metastatic prostate cancer. It took him over a year to die after he asked me in tears to try and contact Jack Kavorkian about getting help to "check out." In his world of publicly funded medicare support for skilled nursing care, he was not given the option to request "early termination." He had to simply stop eating and talking to people and refuse everything he could refuse and gradually waste away. His last year probably cost the nation $45,000 for his basic care. This was a cost he could not refuse to impose under current institutional and public standards. He has been dead now for about 15 years. The intrest on the debt being accumulated in part to fund policies which kept him alive is no doubt a part of the tax burden on both state and federal taxpayers.

Comprehesnive healt care reform must provide at least the voluntary option to "check out early." IMHO even very religious end-of-life counselling professionals would be more than willing to recommend the option to some of their clients.
By ZundapMan  Mar 24, 2009
43
This is a very tough topic. I f there is a G-d why does he allow pain and suffering? I DO NOT KNOW. Yet, there has to be a G-d. Otherwise there is no hope. I believe he has a plan for all of us, believers and non-believers alike. Sometimes I have no idea where he is going or why things are happening but because I do believe in G-d, there must be a meaning for why we go through what we go through. Also, believing in G-d has opened the door that I will go to heaven. I have no doubt or worries. I live my life for others and try to remain off of his throne. I fall short on a regular basis but I continually try. I am reading a book Never Surrender by General Boykin (Ret). He has lived through many life and death situations. G-d has showed his power in many of the Generalís life stories. It is amazing. I know miracles are not an everyday occurrence but I believe they still occur. Faith by definition does not require a smoking gun. Yet I believe we have the smoking gun in the Bible. God has done for me what I was so unable to do for myself. He has helped my friends as well. My selfishness and dishonesty has been put to rest. Today I have a conscious and today it is not about me. Thanks for posting this topic.
Shawn
By sdonig01  Mar 24, 2009
42
Also, we did not go into greater measures- ventilator, etc... However my mother did venture out to find other cancer treatments. Her living will asked that she never be put on life support and we had no desire to do so.

I feel like, to say that religious people make these pointless decisions more than anyone else is sort of an ignorant assessment. What is being conisdered "religious?"
Depending on your definition of "religious", won't most people in this situation (end of life) naturally be religious? Are you talkign total numbers or percentages?
Lastly, we are all human!!! "Religious" or not! When it is put in mind that this measure or that measure can spare the life of a loved one- people are NATURALLY going to give it a try unless it has been thought out well in advance. Even with advanced directives PEOPLE have a hard time letting go, not just "religious" people.

If you haven't figured out yet, I HATE labels, I'm me and no one else is just like me. To define a thought process based on age, sex, race, or religion comes across as ignorance to me. I'm myself and my reasons for going from point A to B may be completely different than the next persons.
By kandyland2001  Mar 24, 2009
41
BTW, heroics are not unnatural- heroes are blessed in their abilities, it is completely natural.
By kandyland2001  Mar 24, 2009
40
I can tell you my mother died of terminal cancer. When getting the diagnosis it was her faith that kept her from breaking down, etc... at the time. Those that believe in Christ know that He provides miracles for you, but you have to accept them. Sometimes that blessing is instananeous and without much visible/understandable provocation. Other times the blessing is sent by way of someone else or another measure. Even in the Bible God sent faith healers to work on the sick. He didn't NEED them to heal anyone but used them to show physical/visible proof of His own work.

Moving on...
When it came time for my mother's death, she was extremely conflicted. Not between her belief in Christ and eternal salvation or the possible finality of death. She was conflicted between going with the Saviour she knew, trusted, and loved and leaving behind the family she loved and believed needed her. Many "religious" people (I am a Christian, not religious) know just how evil the world is and can be. So the fear of leaving behind their loved ones to suffer in this world alone is a HUGE reason they will go to extreme measures to prolong their lives.
By kandyland2001  Mar 24, 2009

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