In our society, there are countless individuals who are terminally ill, suffering from various illnesses, and even dying. Unfortunately, many of these people are living alone without a primary caregiver to provide them with the care and support they need. This is a growing challenge faced by families and communities who must find ways to support these individuals, especially those who are facing psychological distress. It is important that we recognise and address the uncomfortable emotions experienced by them, and provide them with the attention and care they need in their final days.
In the month of February, Pope Francis has called upon the Catholic Church to pray for the intentions of terminally ill individuals and their families, in conjunction with the World Day of the Sick on 11 February, which is observed as a memorial to Our Lady of Lourdes. We need to be united with the terminally ill and pray for them. Our focus this month is to pray for those with terminal illnesses and their families, that they receive the necessary physical and spiritual care and accompaniment.
The Holy Father has explained that when we discuss terminal illnesses, we often get confused between two words – “incurable” and “un-carable”. These two terms do not mean the same thing. Even if there is a slim chance of a cure, every sick person has the right to medical assistance, psychological treatment, and spiritual nourishment, as well as human support. These things are essential for them to experience comfort and consolation. The Holy Father encourages Christians to adopt Jesus’ compassionate gaze and promote a culture of tenderness and compassion, instead of “individualism, indifference, and discarding.”
We have personally encountered those who are in the state of a coma or have a terminal illness that cannot be cured. While some illnesses may not be curable, our caring attitude can bring about a positive outcome and provide comfort and relief to the patient. Thus, caring is the best way to bring cure to the patients.
Pope Francis highlights the importance of providing essential care to patients and encourages us to provide not only medical attention but also human assistance and guarantee our closeness to the patients. As immediate family members and members of the community, we should not leave them alone in their struggles or difficult moments. Instead, we should play our part in showing our humanity, by providing appropriate physical, spiritual and social support.
We can also commit ourselves to praying for those who require our spiritual assistance and spend time sitting with them. This way, the terminally ill and their families will always receive necessary medical and human care and assistance. St John Paul II said, “Cure if it is possible, always take care.”
Cheer up. God is with you. Even though you may be going through a difficult time, be assured that He is very close to you. Trust in God. If God has allowed you to undergo this suffering, it is because He has a good plan for you – a plan that you may not understand yet. Your peace of mind comes from having faith in God, who will never let you down.