Here at Advice & Aid, we spend much of our day focusing on the preciousness of life at it’s earliest stages. We believe passionately that each life is valuable and precious, and deserves a chance at living.
But we are not only passionate about the preciousness of unborn lives. A friend of Advice & Aid recently wrote this article highlighting the beauty of lives that were well-lived, and honored at their end by family.
No matter the trials, difficulties or unexpectedness of a life, it is worth the fight to treat it with dignity . . . giving honor to it’s value, no matter the stage!
In April of 2009 we received word from the surgeon: Dad had a very rare and aggressive form of abdominal cancer. They had seen it twice before at the hospital. Both patients were much younger. Both were diagnosed earlier. Neither had survived. Dad made the decision to forego aggressive cancer treatments and live what was left of his life. As we had been told would happen, he slept more and more until He died on June 10th.
Jump forward 2 ½ years. Same setting: Same hospital. It is now December, 2011. This time it was Mother and the diagnosis was lung cancer . . . very advanced. What?!! Mother had never smoked! She tried a couple of available treatments, but in May, 2012 we were told the treatment wasn’t working and she probably had a very short time to live. Like Dad, Mother opted to forego further treatment and enjoy what time she had left. Over the next 100 days, my Mother demonstrated what dying with grace looks like, enjoying the people she loved and trusting God until the very end. On August 26, 2012 Mother died.
As I look back on that time in my life, it is so very bitter sweet. On the one hand, in just over three years I lost both of my parents to cancers that had them beat before they knew there was a battle to fight. Dad was 78 when he died; Mother was 81. It felt too soon. I remember waking up the morning after Mother died and absent-mindedly bringing up FaceBook on my phone. As always, it asked for my “Status Update”. I was tempted to type in, “Orphan.”
On the other hand, my siblings and I had rallied together, coordinated our calendars, worked hard around the clock and cared for both of our parents in their final days in the home that Dad had built by hand and where they had spent their entire married life. We had divided up shifts, prepared meals, organized medical equipment, treatments and drugs, worked with Hospice and provided high-quality and loving care for our parents. We talked together, laughed and cried together, had some of the best family time we had experienced since we had all established our own homes as adults. We finished the job exhausted, but we finished well. We had truly honored our Father and our Mother in the best way possible. We had participated in the sacred experience of caring for them as they died.
I look back with a feeling of satisfaction and sadness. Those final days with my parents are just as dear as the first ones with my babies.
At Advice & Aid, we believe that all life is precious. From the moment of conception to our final breath, we believe that each person is unique and created for a purpose. Until that final breath has come, that purpose has not been completed. Honoring God’s schedule is both sacred and a blessing.