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Love as a Guiding Principle

Monday, 10 Jun 2013 04:33

About Dr. Monica Williams-Murphy (120 Posts)

Dr. Monica Williams-Murphy is a Board Certified Emergency Medicine Physician, who practices in one of the largest emergency departments in the United States at Huntsville Hospital. Through her writing and speaking, she is devoted to transforming the end of life into a time of peace, closure and healing. Media Page


“Families make decisions usually out of guilt and fear and love. Of those, only true love provides the right orientation”- Monica Williams-Murphy

We usually make most of our decisions unconsciously, without naming the emotions or philosophies which underpin those decisions. This is normal. I mean who has time to sit around and analyze their every thought, their every choice? Not me, for sure.

But, their are times when this type of analysis is called for. When we should ask ourselves probing questions like: what is the guiding principle or emotion for this decision?

One of those times, when we should deeply question ourselves and our motives, is when we are making surrogate decisions for another-such as when we are serving as healthcare proxy for someone whom we love (a role which will hereby be referred to as the SDM- Surrogate Decision Maker)

It seems that of all the complex emotions that arise for the SDM, guilt, fear, and love seem to rise, most often, to the top.

Guilt tells the SDM : “You need forgiveness for your drinking” and “You have been a terrible son for the last 5 years, now is your chance to make up for it.”

Fear tells the SDM: “How will you live alone?” and “How will you manage without her?”

If these emotions are allowed to guide the SDM’s decision, unnecessary suffering may be either created or prolonged for the patient; because the SDM is attempting to “buy” time to work out their own feelings about the loved one and the situation.

In contrast, ask yourself what love would whisper to the Surrogate Decision Maker? Do you hear love’s message?

Ultimately, this is the only voice that matters. Only true love provides the right orientation for Surrogate Decision Makers- those who have the honor of making the best decision they can imagine for someone they love.

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