Q&A on Suffering
QUESTION: My mother has multiple sclerosis and has been given only a few years to live. Our family is concerned about Mom spending the last few years of her life suffering. What can we do?
ANSWER: The fear of pain affects many decisions in life. As a loving family, you certainly want to protect your mother from pain, and there is nothing wrong with keeping a loved one comfortable. Medical science has developed and refined pain medication to the point that patients should never have to unduly suffer. If your mother’s doctors are not able to control her pain at any point in her illness, seek another doctor or a pain specialist.
Also realize there are various kinds of pain that your mother could suffer. Physical pain is an obvious concern, but you also need to be aware of spiritual and emotional pain. I encourage you to spend time with your mother on a regular basis throughout her last years. Share God’s Word with her, even if you get to the point when she can’t give a response. Pray with her, sing songs to her, and read devotions to her. Physical pain can be controlled with medication, but loved ones need to provide for her spiritual needs as well.
You are wise in considering this issue now rather than waiting until the later stages of her illness. Make a plan and share it with your mother. Talk openly about the illness, its effects, and the challenges that are going to confront all of you. Addressing the situation up-front will not be easy, but it will help prepare all of you for her last days here on earth and prepare her for her pain-free eternity in heaven.