A Thought on End-of-Life

| September 20, 2017

“People overlook the beauty of end-of-life.”

Recently a friend of mine stopped to talk while I was eating lunch alone in the cafeteria, and brought this situation to my attention. At first, I was confused as to what he meant. We were both active in the pro-life group on our college campus, could we really be missing out on something related to life?

He then explained what he meant, with the story of a girl in his own town named Cassandra. Cassandra, at only eight years old, had discovered that she had been suffering from a terrible form of cancer that would inevitably take her life.  We look at this issue from the outside and only think of the tragedy that this story clearly describes.

However, my friend continued, Cassandra lived her last days in the best possible way she could. She was surrounded by family and happiness, and even got to meet one of her favorite celebrities who stopped in town just to see her. Despite the indescribable sorrow and difficulty of losing life at such a young age, the end of her life was filled with once-in-a-lifetime experiences and the joy of being with her family.

When we face the end of life of others, even if they aren’t as young as Cassandra, why don’t we treat this time the same way? Why, for so many people, is the end-of-life dreaded and filled with so much misery? Partly, this may be that the end-of-life is filled with suffering and sickness, especially the elderly. Yet, when we see this suffering in a young person, our response is quite different. We try as hard as we can to focus on happier activities and distract from the sadness and pain of suffering.

When my friend concluded his thoughts, I found that I too had to shift my perspective on the end-of-life time. Instead of seeing family members at the end of their life as a bother or a burden, why not appreciate the time they have left and the true person that they are? It’s possible that we focus too much on our own regrets and grudges to really appreciate another and the last moments of their life. With a child, we don’t have these grudges. But with the end of the life of an elderly relative, we might.

I left my friend at lunch realizing that there indeed was much beauty in the end-of-life time for an individual that I didn’t take into consideration. To have a true passion for life, one must not view the end-of-life as something to push through and get over with. Instead, one might consider loving the life for what it still is: a gift. A difficult and imperfect gift at times, but one that still contains much beauty and joy. When we consider the worth of life even at its very end, we can discover much of what a love and defense of life is all about.