Thursday, November 26, 2009

Engage with Grace: Giving thanks for both life and death

Bob Coffield sent me a invitation to participate in a Thanksgiving Blog Rally being led by Paul Levy, CEO of Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston and author of Running A Hospital Blog. I posted a template that came with the email and started to look at what Engage With Grace is all about. I encourage you to check out their web site at www.engagewithgrace.

But this subject really got me thinking. This past Sunday during the #HCSM chat on Twitter I was reminded of the difficult death of my mother after a struggle with Alzheimer's disease. Then I watched CBS News 60 Minutes "The Cost of Dying." So this Thanksgiving Day I am considering life and death.

I believe that our lives are a gift from God. And while I know that medical care has made some remarkable advances that allow us to live longer and healthier lives than ever before in history, sometimes keeping someone alive just for the sake of keeping them breathing may not be the best decision. But this is a deeply personal decision that I would never want to impose on another. That is why having these discussions with your loved ones is so important. Knowing our loved ones wishes is important when dealing with end of life issues.

I have served as a Deacon and now as an Elder at Gateway Presbyterian Church. I have watched families struggle as they see their mother, father, brother, sister or their sons and daughters die. I have seen good deaths, where it was more of a joyful parting, and some very difficult times where things went terribly wrong. One thing that I think is critically important is that your family understand your wishes regarding end of life care. An Advance Directive is a great way to accomplish this.

I encourage those reading this to consider what you want for end of life care and have this discussion with your family. Death is a natural part of life, and the only thing we can really be sure is coming (along with taxes I suppose). I am so thankful for the life of my mother. But her final passing was also a blessing. She is no longer suffering, and by her death as much as her life she has drawn her family closer together. Sometimes the best way you can show someone you love them is to let them die well...

Watch the Engage with Grace video:

Engage with Grace from Health 2.0 on Vimeo.

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