Tuesday, February 9, 2010

End of Life Care: It's OK to be a Burden

A conversation about funerals among the Blackbirds led me to search for this article by Lutheran ethicist Gilbert Meilander.

In contending against advance directives for end-of-life care, Meilander argues that it's okay to be a burden to your family members when you're dying. That's the nature of human relationshipw: they're interconnected. We bear one another's burdens all the time. It's how we live as families and as Christians.

At the end of the article, Meilander distinguishes between two questions. "What would he have wanted?" is futile. We can never know the answer. Asking that question is an unnecessary burden. Loved ones should rather ask, "What is best for him now?" or "What can we do to benefit the life he still has?" Answering those questions is a necessary and good burden.

1 comment:

Karl said...

Awesome article, Jeff. I remember coming across this during Dr. Biermann's 'Theological Ethics' class a few years back, right after my father died. As he was in his final days, I was amazed at how many people, especially those within the medical community, suggested to us that we just "pull the plug" because if he just stayed in his current state, "he would be such a burden."

Thanks for sharing!