I just left work where I was standing at the bedside of a patient watching the sun set over his life. I have watched many patients die before, but I have never watched a patient request to die and then watch them do so.
This elderly gentleman was dependent on a ventilator and requested that it be removed knowing the outcome. People often use the common adage that "you don't know when you are going to die." This was not the case with this patient. He knew that once the doctor turned off the ventilator, that he wouldn't survive for very long. He was awake, alert, and completely aware of the situation. He said good bye to his wife and children prior to the end.
This was very strange to me. "What if I actually knew the date and time of my death and could even chose it?" This patient basically "chose" his time of death.
The majority of us don't have that option. We don't have the option to say goodbye or make amends with those we love or whom we have failed to love prior to our death.
Prior to his death, we discovered that there were seemingly issues of unforgiveness and a distant relationship between this patient and some of his children. He had a daughter who the family didn't think would show up, but she did. I think that is what touched me the most--that she showed up and was able to be with her father during his last five minutes on earth. Although I was thankful that she was there, it saddened me that she had waited so long. Neither one could go back and "do it over" at this moment. It was too late.
I don't want to be on my death bed and have regrets
over what I have done in life
as well as what I haven't done.
I was thankful that I had a moment alone with this man during the last hour of his life. I asked if he was a Christian and he shook his head both "no" and then "yes." I had the privilege of letting him know that it is never too late for Christ's forgiveness to take away our guilt, shame, and sin. I just hope he received it.