Video: Family embraces true ‘death with dignity’ through palliative care

A Denver family chose palliative care for their wife and mother.

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Jane Smith and Brittany Maynard were diagnosed with the same type of terminal brain cancer. Maynard chose to end her life by committing physician-assisted suicide on Nov. 1, 2014. Smith received palliative care and died naturally. Proponents of physician-assisted suicide claimed that Maynard had a “death with dignity”. However, Smith’s family insists her long yet natural death was truly dignified.

 

“I wouldn’t give those last moments with my mom up for anything in the world,” her daughter, Miranda, said. “I feel like it takes a lot more strength to keep going. When I think of someone who is strong, and in the midst of that hardship, I think of my mom right away. She was so strong during it all.”

Smith’s family said that although it was hard to see her suffer, they know she made the right choice by dying naturally.

“It might have seemed easier not going through it. I definitely think it would have been easier not to deal with all that. But it’s not better,” Miranda said.

Smith’s son, Chris, recalled difficult times with his mother, including watching her suffer seizures during a family trip. However, he also said that his mother was able to see his 21st birthday, and that taking care of her was a gift.

“Me being able to spend that time with her, and her being able to see her family one last time, I feel like those are moments you can’t have back, and those are moments you don’t know are going to happen, but you would wish you did have,” Chris said.

Jane entered palliative care, or care designed to help people in the last stages of natural death.

Kevin Lundry is the CEO of Divine Mercy Supportive Care, a Catholic Palliative Care group endorsed by Archbishop Samuel J. Aquila.

“It’s contentious, because both sides are being compassionate in saying, ‘we don’t want people to suffer.’ They don’t want people to suffer; we don’t want people to suffer. It’s just how we get to that point of alleviating the suffering that is where the questions really should lay,” Lundry said.

“Yes, it’s going to be difficult, but the loss from the suicide far outweighs any degree of burden that exists from the journey. The journey of a dying person is actually a beautiful experience…but because we fear death as a culture, we don’t want to go there.”

Lundry also warned against the burden physician-assisted suicide leaves with the family, by causing them to wonder what part they played in their loved one’s death for the rest of their lives.

“That’s more powerful than the burden, if you will, of allowing mom to die in peace with a support team around her,” Lundry said.

Miranda Smith said her mother always put her family before her own comfort.

“In the end, she always thought of me before herself and always tried to comfort me,” Miranda said.

Her father said moments like that were part of what made palliative care so beautiful.

“The little things like that are so valuable and worth it, that even if the person is sick and suffering, there’s so much meaning to it,” Jeff said.

Palliative Care events

Gospel of Life Conference

Oct. 24, 2015 8:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m.

Church of the Risen Christ 3060 S Monaco Pkwy, Denver, CO 80222

40 Days for Life

Sept. 23-Nov. 1

40daysforlife.com/Denver.

 

COMING UP: Lebanese priest: ‘We need your prayers’ after Beirut explosions

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A Lebanese Catholic priest has asked believers around the world to pray for the people of his country, after two explosions in Beirut injured hundreds of people and are reported to have left at least 10 people dead.

“We ask your nation to carry Lebanon in its hearts at this difficult stage and we place great trust in you and in your prayers, and that the Lord will protect Lebanon from evil through your prayers,” Fr. Miled el-Skayyem of the Chapel of St. John Paul II in Keserwan, Lebanon, said in a statement to EWTN News Aug. 4.

“We are currently going through a difficult phase in Lebanon, as you can see on TV and on the news,” the priest added.

Raymond Nader, a Maronite Catholic living in Lebanon, echoed the priest’s call.

“I just ask for prayers now from everyone around the world. We badly need prayers,” Nader told CNA Tuesday.

Explosions in the port area of Lebanon’s capital overturned cars, shattered windows, set fires, and damaged buildings across Beirut, a city of more than 350,000, with a metro area of more than 2 million people.

“It was a huge disaster over here and the whole city was almost ruined because of this explosion and they’re saying it’s kind of a combination of elements that made this explosion,” Antoine Tannous, a Lebanese journalist, told CNA Tuesday.

Officials have not yet determined the cause of the explosions, but investigators believe they may have started with a fire in a warehouse that stored explosive materials. Lebanon’s security service warned against speculations of terrorism before investigators could assess the situation.

According to Lebanon’s state-run media, hundreds of injured people have flooded hospital emergency rooms in the city.

Lebanon’s Prime Minister Hassan Diab has declared that Wednesday will be a national day of mourning. The country is almost evenly divided between Sunni Muslims, Shia Muslims, and Chrsitians, most of whom are Maronite Catholics. Lebanon also has a small Jewish population, as well as Druze and other religious communities.

Featured image: A picture shows the scene of an explosion near the port in the Lebanese capital Beirut on August 4, 2020. – Two huge explosion rocked the Lebanese capital Beirut, wounding dozens of people, shaking buildings and sending huge plumes of smoke billowing into the sky. Lebanese media carried images of people trapped under rubble, some bloodied, after the massive explosions, the cause of which was not immediately known. (Photo by STR / AFP) (Photo by STR/AFP via Getty Images)