Sunday, August 20, 2017

Permission to die

Sometimes we need to give people permission to die. They don't have a duty to fight death right up to the last minute. They don't have a duty to soldier on. 

It's a balancing act. On the one hand it seems right to hope for the best, pray for the best, hope for a miracle.

On the other hand, that drumbeat makes it hard for someone to be a peace with the prospect of dying.  To prepare themselves for death, which denies them a peaceful death, because they feel they have an obligation to resist death. And that can be cruel. Sometimes it's okay to let go–especially as a Christian. 

From a Christian standpoint, it's okay to say good-bye to this life and leave this world behind. In our efforts to "encourage" the terminally ill, I think some well-meaning believers have contributed to their ordeal and mounting sense of panic because they think we have a duty to always say something "hopeful" in the sense of waiting for a last-minute miracle. The terminally ill are never allowed to resign themselves to the probability of death and make the emotional and psychological adjustment. It's always, hang on to the last dying breath–just in case.

Death is easy for some Christians and hard for others. The danger is to make dying harder than it needs to be. If the terminally ill are made to feel that they are letting down the cause by "giving up", that makes dying harder. They aren't allowed to mentally prepare themselves for death. For release from this life. Release from pain. Release from unnecessary anxieties. 


  1. A little bird tells me that if you say this on Facebook, you will stir up a hornet's nest. I'm taking a Facebook hiatus (deactivated account) and hence not seeing the wrath stirred up by my own similar post (when someone shared it),

    but I'm told it's happening.

  2. Oops. Here's my actual post.