The Task of Life

ChelseaAging, Assisted Suicide, Disabled, Suffering2 Comments

Earlier this month, the UK Daily Mail ran what is truly one of the most disturbing things I’ve ever read. It’s one woman’s first-hand account of how she helped her mother dehydrate to death. At the age of 88, paralysed, incontinent and unable to speak following a series of small strokes, her mother had had enough.

She wasn’t dying. She was “humiliated by her helplessness” and wanted to die. So her daughter and the staff at the nursing home she was living in kept her “comfortable” while she starved and dehydrated for 13 days before finally dying.

The whole article is a prime example of what I mean when I say that the Culture of Death is rooted in an inability to meaningfully connect with suffering. More on that here.

I love this excerpt from a letter to his brother that Russian author Fedor Dostoevsky wrote when he was sentenced to 4 years of exile and hard labor in Siberia, where he suffered terribly:

“Brother, I’m not depressed and haven’t lost spirit. Life everywhere is life, life is in ourselves and not in the external. There will be people near me, and to be a human being among human beings, and remain one forever, no matter what misfortunes befall, not to become depressed, and not to falter – this is what life is, herein lies its task.”

Life is a gift, our task is to receive it, cherish it and live it – in good times and in bad, even through sickness and old age. Yes, that means you might have to suffer a little or a lot, but life is still life.

Even in the midst of extreme suffering, even as our bodies deteriorate and we lose control of some of our basic bodily functions, we are still human beings. Our lives still have meaning.

What’s more, if we let Him, God uses those times of trial to strengthen us with His strength, to educate us in the practical living-out of those valuable virtues: humility, patience, courage, and perseverance.

There is beauty in human weakness. We’re just often too proud to see it.

2 Comments on “The Task of Life”

  1. Awesome, Chelsea. I love the quote from Dostoevsky, and your own reflections are powerful expressions of the great gift of life!

    May God our Father and Creator richly bless you and your loved ones always!

    Cami Murphy

  2. Beautiful reflection – I too think often of end-of-life: I took care of my mother for many years, and last year, at 93 (now 94)she entered a nursing home, and I visit daily: so many people, so many “problems”, yet they are so great to become familiar with, and they continue to be exactly who they are, regardless of various age-related mental capacities…people I speak with nearly universaly say they Hope they Die rather than go through this…one friend I took with me entered the elevator at the end of the visit and shocked me by just freaking out at seeing so many frail elderly in wheel-chairs, unable to care for themselves etc – and was hostile. another friend’s relative engaged, with the help of family, in ‘euthenizing’ herself, to end the suffering of a painful fatal disease. (via the old Hemlock Society) I still can’t get over this. How can I explain the grace and blessing that filled me, caring for my parents in old age, or the love of the aids towards their patients in the home, that God comes So Close to us when we suffer…yes, we Are HIS CREATURES, not little gods running around, though you’d never know it…thanks for your writing, I like it.

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