I have recently witnessed the term “giving up” as a reference to medical choices.

An elderly woman in her 90’s has pneumonia and a mass on her lung.  There are choices to be made in this situation. Pneumonia can be treated with antibiotics.  The mass could be seen better with a CT scan, then maybe even biopsied, with other choices from there.

So, what do you do?

Everything possible?


Some use of pharmaceutical options and nothing invasive?

Do we know what the woman wants?

Does not doing anything or just doing some of the non-invasive choices mean that you are giving up on the woman?  If someone does see this as “giving up” it would appear, to me, that they are seeing this as some sort of a guilt issue.  “I don’t want to feel guilty, so let’s do everything possible to keep her alive, no matter the costs.”  Is this about the elderly woman or the person grasping for straws?

I think that “giving in” can be an active, grace filled means of love.  Sometimes not doing everything possible allows people to die with great dignity, even a sense of control.  Giving in is not losing.  Giving in is removing our own egos and emotional baggage in order to allow life to be a process, a transformation.

I’d love to hear you comments.