Womb to Tomb // Dignity of the Elderly and Dying

Do not cast me off in the time of old age; do not forsake me when my strength is spent.

Psalms 71:9

As I read this passage from Psalms I cannot help but feel sadness, an aching in my heart. There was a time when casting off an older adult would have been unheard of, but we live in a culture of death. Casting off an elderly person not only happens, in some parts of the world, euthanasia is a viable option when contemplating what to do with aged. In fact, it is a viable option for people of any age who feel their suffering has become unbearable. When the decision is made to end a life there is the belief that their life no longer holds value.

Our elderly are valued as long as they are physically and/or mentally capable and do not place too great of a demand on our healthcare system or family. It seems that a person’s ability to be autonomous equates to their life holding value and denial of value is equivalent to a denial of dignity. This makes a mockery of the sanctity of human life. We do not know God’s plan, we do not see the big picture, only He does. Therefore we cannot assume to know that nothing comes from our suffering and the suffering of our sick and elderly. Suffering, can serve to strengthen and develop us for a greater purpose that He has planned for us.

Christ tells us to take up our cross, as he did. I am reminded of Saints Faustina and Padre Pio who suffered much in their lives and offered their suffering for salvation of souls in union with Jesus’ suffering on the cross. Our life is a sacred gift from God, and only He can give it. It is therefore His right alone to take us out of this world in His time. Paul reminds us, "If we live, we are responsible to the Lord, and when we die we are responsible to the Lord. Both in life and in death we belong to the Lord.Romans 14:18.

 So as many of us are facing circumstances of either being sick ourselves or helping with an aged or sick person in the family, be willing to offer your suffering up for the salvation of souls in union with Christ and trust that there is a purpose for this season of life. While this may not end the suffering, we can find peace while we endure. 

To Jesus through Mary-Amelia Mannes-Gilliland

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