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Answers from our Priests for Life Medical Team

Submitted by: P on  5/13/2010
Answered by: Matthew P. Harrison, M.D.
Topic: Wouldn’t it be better for her if she were to just comfortably pass......
My Grandmother just lays in the nursing home, she has bed sores and is in a lot of pain. She has no quality of life. Wouldn’t it be better for her if she were to just comfortably pass and go to Heaven?
Dear Peter,
I am so sorry to hear that your grandmother is not feeling well. I know that you want her to be out of pain and to feel good again. I would challenge you to think about her condition in a new way. The phrase “quality of life” has become permission for some to promote euthanasia and withholding treatment from those that need it. Traditionally, quality of life has been measured by what a person can do, how much they can contribute, and whether they are aware of their surroundings. But I know some patients that have all of their physical capabilities, have material possessions, but have severe depression and say they have a poor quality of life so they seek to kill themselves. I know other patients that are severely demented, have terminal illnesses, but have families that surround them with love and are cared for with great concern. What we learn is that a person’s true quality of life is not what they can do for us, but what we can do for them. It is good to stop their suffering, but not to end their lives. Patients like Terri Schiavo can receive fantastic care from their families and have a great quality of life with love and relationship. It was tragic to watch her die of starvation and thirst while plants around her were watered and cared for daily. Peter, go make sure that your grandmother is getting good medical care and being loved. Spend time with her and pray for her. Make sure that her doctors are giving her medicine to keep her from suffering while trying to avoid ending her life. This is your chance to protect the life of someone you love.

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