Did you hear about the woman, Martha Sepúlveda, who was set to be the first person to be killed by euthanasia in Colombia? She had canceled her phone and expected to be killed this past Sunday. She is diagnosed with ALS — Lou Gehrig’s disease. But death isn’t imminent. She wants to spare her adult son and everyone else — including herself — the decline that comes from the disease. I know a woman who recently died of the same disease. It was a painful suffering, but her family loved her enough to suffer with her, to love her in the suffering.
Some media hailed the expected death of a professed Catholic as a so-called death with dignity — as a declaration of independence from slavery to death’s timing. But what it really showed is the misery of treating people who are sick and disabled as if they are something other than human, as if the decrease in productivity means that they their lives are of any less value. On Sunday, the medical center that was planning on participating in her death, went back on their decision. Some of us who were praying for that miracle best be praying for her heart — no one should ever be made to feel that they would be better off dead. I know in my life I’ve experienced the unexpected consolations of being at the side of a loved one as she is dying. The mysteries of life are resplendent in the little moments of love that only the grace of time will unveil. I’m not sugarcoating the pain of death — believe me I know it is excruciating. But we don’t know the full picture. And lives are not for us to end. Please continue to pray for this dear, suffering woman, Martha Sepúlveda.
This is based on a commentary that’s airing today on The Catholic Channel, Sirius XM, Channel 129.