Watching someone slowly fade is, as we've said, hard.
So is the temptation to try to force a miracle. As the dying spouse, you may want to go all out to try to live...and as a caregiver, you may be in the position of either introducing an option, or giving counsel on something your mate brings up.
We hear of miracle cures, 'bold new treatments', and miraculous healings by 'anointed' pastors.
When the actor Steve McQueen was dying of lung cancer, he went to Mexico in a last-ditch effort to try what was said to be a promising new treatment involving peach pits.
I'm not at all against making every effort to survive, and to turn the situation around, but there are some things to consider -
- What are the realistic chances for any sort of success? We all have limitations on time,money, and energy. Steve mcQueen could afford to chase a last hope across the border...but can you? You, as the caregiver, will have to go on with your family. We all say that even the smallest hope is better than none,but can you pay the price? And yes, there's the downside price of deciding against it,as the patient, or arguing against,as the caregiver...and wondering what would have happened had you 'done the utmost'. If the choice is before you, it's not an easy one, and there will be fallout either way, if it fails.
- What will the sacrifice be in quality of life? I'm terminal, and I have a limited number of days left, so I try to make each one the best it can be; at this point I, personally, would not bet the quality of a sizable chunk of that on a longshot. I love the time I can spend with barbara and the dogs; I love the small amount of work I can still do upon aeroplanes; and I love writing. These are more important, in the aggregate, than a desperate hope. I've run my race, and I'm content. You may not share this feeling, but it's worth considering.
- What about disappointment? We tend to view longshots in terms of the successes, but for every lottery ticket purchased, there are thousands that - I hope - go back for recycling (Save the Earth!). What would that disappointment do to the time you and your husband or wife can still share? And yes, this has to be balanced against the cost of passing on the chance. Again, it's a chard one.
The 'miraculous healers' are in something of a class by themselves.
I have no doubt that miraculous healing exists; I've seen it.
But I also feel that anyone who claims to be a healer should have proof that will stand up to scrutiny. Someone with a back problem who, on having the laying on of hands, can suddenly walk normally immediately after the 'healing' doesn't make the grade. Adrenaline can do that; so can, unfortunately, a rigged demonstration.
Many of these healers will pooh-pooh the need for truth, quoting Jesus' response to Thomas about seeing and believing. Well, they're not Jesus, and at least one preacher who holds regular 'miracle services' has ushers who keep people with clear and obvious infirmities from the stage.
In pursuing a miracle cure at a healing service, then, there's one additional question to ask yourself...what will this do to your mate's faith...and to yours?
I'm deliberately leaving out those who say that a donation of, say, $300 to the ministry will 'sow a seed that will grow a miracle'. For one thing, it's a deliberate abuse of the Parable of the Sower, and for another, it takes advantage of desperation. These people are beneath contempt.
If you are a caregiver or are terminally ill, I hope, with all my heart, that you find a last-minute cure, or a miracle. Heck, I hope I do.
But no matter what, I hope that you find peace, and the capacity for joy.