When you don’t get what you want for Christmas

This is for those whose Christmas is not what they expected. While we rejoice in Christ’s birth always, Christmas can be a very difficult time if you are mourning the loss of a family member or trying desperately to keep a loved one with you as long as possible. 

It is the eve of Christmas Eve and I am spending the night in a hospital room with my ailing father.

I have overseen a lot of cases involving the denial of life-sustaining care and the withholding of care from patients deemed expendable – people with brain injuries and other disabilities and people who are believed to have outlived their usefulness. Somehow it is harder when you’re fighting for someone you love.

My father is 86. His doctors don’t know exactly what is wrong with him and they don’t seem to be in any hurry to find out. Six weeks ago, he had fluid in one lung and was sent home with the promise he would recover soon. He did not recover. When he grew worse, his doctor said to keep him out of the hospital, as they would only put him in hospice. That was the same doctor who, three weeks ago, said my father did not have cancer and would be fine. Since then, we have dealt with delayed diagnoses, faulty tests, seemingly indifferent doctors– and now an infection that has unmercifully dropped my father at death’s door. He can barely speak and when he does, he only says “help me.”

But I am helpless.

Tomorrow is Christmas Eve. People are buying presents, baking cookies, and decorating trees. We are draining my father’s lung, feeding him pureed meat, and changing his bed sheets.

We are fighting to get him the care he needs at a time when many would tell my father to just give up and seek “death with dignity.” I really hate that expression. It implies that people who are dependent on others somehow lack dignity. It is the impetus behind a global euthanasia movement that intentionally killed over 20,000 people last year.

Being dependent on other people for basic needs should not be a death sentence.

I don’t know how long my father will live, but we will care for him as best we can until his life comes to its natural end. I pray for his healing. Mostly I pray for his soul. That he would be reconciled to the God he could brush aside during his healthier days. That he would seek mercy and forgiveness through Jesus Christ. That this “light momentary affliction” would be preparing for him “an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison.”

If you are going through a similar situation, I would like to pray for you and for your loved one as well. Life threatening injuries and illnesses are always devastating. But mourning a loss or trying to fight for someone’s life during Christmas is especially difficult.

If you would like me – and our Life Legal prayer warriors – to pray for you, feel free to email us at lifelegaldefensefoundation@gmail.com.

For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal. (2 Corinthians 4:17-18)

Alexandra Snyder
CEO / Life Legal Defense Foundation

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