I knew that the idea of hospice care came from the Bible, but a Youtube hospice documentary video titled, “Letting Go” helped me understand and appreciate it’s work more.
“Hospice”, which has the same root word as “hospitality” was originally a place or shelter for travelers who were sick or injured to rest during the mid century. Then it evolved to be a place for people who travel from this world to next world to rest, or an institution that provides palliative care, instead of a treatment for cure, and to help people to close their lives on the earth. In the U.S., most of hospice cares are provided at a patient’s home supporting the family members who surround the patient rather than separating him/her from the family in an isolated environment.
In the video, there was a scene where an African-American woman, who was told that she had a month to live, had a conversation with her priest. He told her that nothing was impossible for God, and as he could survive from colon cancer, she would be able to be cured also if she prayed hard. Listening to him seriously, she and her family determined to believe that God would heal her from cancer.
Yet, in the next scene, a hospice staff showed her concern: “ She has a strong faith, that supports her, but the same faith that assures her to recover from the illness keeps her from facing some work most patients are doing during this point of illness: evaluation of how things were going, things she was pleased about, the things she regrets, the need to speak to the members of her family advice, thanks or forgiveness.”
Even though cancer progressed and she lost so much weight, a family member encouraged the woman saying that she looked stronger, as if everyone had a hallucination, and as the woman was told that cancer was actually getting bigger, she believed that it was because the prayers were not hard enough, so she had to pray harder.
At last when the patient was an inch away from the death, the hospice chaplain asked the patient’s son, who could not accept the reality, ”You don’t want to pray unless she is healed?” “Letting her go is letting her down?”
When we face death, the video told that we go through four stages such as 1) denial 2) anger 3) bargaining (ex: If I prayer harder or do more good work, a miracle may happen.) and finally 4) acceptance.
Watching the process of dying was very tough, but because of so, I learned how significant it is that the goals of hospice are not only to easy physical pain, but also emotional pain; pain from regret, anger, and grief so that a patient and his or her family can go through such tough stages and find peace.
Not My Will But Thy Will Be Done
Noticing that the priest gave the woman the wrong hope, I also thought about the difficult role of a spiritual leader. It is true that nothing is impossible for God. Yet His plan may not be the same as our wishes, and if we assume that our prayers were always granted, or demand to be granted, isn’t it an act of arrogance or disobedience?
The Bible says that with fear, Jesus prayed hard even to the point of sweating the blood as he pleaded to remove the cup, the coming crucifixion, from Him. Yet, at the end of the prayer, He said,” Not my will but Thy Will be done.”
Our prayers have to be the same as His. We have to trust and believe God even if His answer is different from our wish. We are able to do so because His Grace is sufficient and there is the great hope even after death: Because our suffering last for a short time, but the joy is waiting ahead of us that will last forever!
Finding God, who loves me so profoundly that He sent Jesus to die for me, was the best thing that has ever happened in my life. Thy Will be done in and through Hospice care!