I have recently been going to meetings at work about “End of Life” care pathways, which is a bit odd, but quite interesting, once I’d got past my inital horror about talking about dying. Basically the NHS and social care need to be better at helping people have a good death, and not rush them off to a care home or hospital the minute this looks likely, and that if someone has enough pain relief and support from family and friends, a good death can be possible.
Since this initial meeting I have been looking at stories in the paper, or personal experiences through a new lens. I don’t think there can be such a thing as a death without mourning or sorrow, but the experience can vary massively. If someone has alot of money, it doesn’t mean they will have a good death, if they don’t have people with them, or if they live alone and it takes days before someone finds them. If someone dies too young, it can’t be seen to be a positive thing for their family, the only positives can be if care and help are easily available and support is in place.
In Christ we are “born again” which means we have a second chance at living, and some of the old ways are killed off. In a way it’s the difference between existing and living. Sometimes we are not appreciative of the blessings in their lives, or the opportunities availble to us, and a major trauma or someone dying can be a wake-up call that makes them see the world differently. When I had my son, in 2008, I had a major haemorrage after an emergency C Section, and my life was saved by the consultant on duty, and I had to have emergency blood pumped into me, whilst my son was kept alive on a ventilator in the special care unit. After that my view of my life changed and I did feel remarkably lucky to have a healthy son, and a loving husband, and my own health came back after only a few months.
The long-term effect of these sorts of things isn’t always that positive though, sometimes nowadays I have a good whinge and whine about ridiculous things, that just happen to annoy me! I am addicted to Big Brother, and sometimes think if I could see conversations played back to me that I’ve had, like the housemates have to do when they come out, I would be quite ashamed and embarressed, by the words I used, or the person I was talking about hearing some criticism or other that I wanted to share.
The only way I’ve found to “live” today, rather than worrying and plannign tomorrow too much, is to pray, regularly, if possible out loud, and to ask for help with everything I am worrying about, no matter how ridiculous this sounds! This week my Dad’s had a hip operation and I made sure other people were praying with me, even though I knew that he was in the best possible hands, and that logically it would make little difference, it felt important to tell God my concerns and not to carry my own concerns and worries alone. If you are worried about someone who is ill or at the end of their life, this is a good prayer from the Jewish tradition, asking God to help.
A prayer for healing
God, hear my prayer,
And let my cry come to You.
Do not hide from me in the day of my distress
Turn to me and speedily answer my prayer.
Eternal God, Source of healing,
Out of my distress I call upon You.
Help me sense Your presence
At this difficult time.
Grant me patience when the hours are heavy;
In hurt or disappointment give me courage.
Keep me trustful in Your love.
Give me strength for today, and hope for tomorrow.
To your loving hands I commit my spirit
When asleep and when awake. You are with me; I shall not fear.