Christian woman: “She’s pulled the plug on her own son, whom I love and cared for. How do I deal with my anger?”

Got this in last night:

Dear John,

I’m having a spiritual problem right now that I hope you can advise me on.

Through a community services agency, our family does respite care for Tim, a boy with special needs. Respite care means that we take care of Tim so that his mom can work, take a break, and generally do what she needs to. Tim has his own room in our house, equipped with a hospital bed and everything needed for his proper care. For the past ten years Tim has been at our house more often than he has at his mom’s.

My family loves Tim more than I can possibly say. He’s been as much a part of our family, as much my little brother, as if he were my flesh and blood. And there’s no doubt that our care and love for Tim has extended his life. Everyone tells us that it’s because of us that he has lived as long as he has. Tim was expected to die one year after he came into our lives, when he was nine years old. He is now eighteen.

Timmy is such a light, and has taught me so much about love and serving God through serving others. I wish the whole world could learn what we have learned from knowing, caring for, and loving this sweet child. He has taught me the very meaning of unconditional love, and I think it’s as close as I’ll get to seeing Jesus until it’s time for me to go meet Him myself.

John, last Friday Tim became seriously ill, and was taken to the hospital. After high doses of antibiotics he started pulling through, but then his body temperature and blood pressure dropped.

Suddenly his mother decided to stop all medical care for Tim, including his feeding tube and i.v. fluids.

It’s about Tim’s mother that I’m writing you. I don’t know what to do with my anger toward her.

Tim’s mother is an alcoholic who has always neglected Tim. Basically, her main interest in Tim lies in the checks he gets for social security and child support, which she uses to support her habits, which include gambling. (And smoking, which has been the cause of some real grief in our family, because even with all of Tim’s health problems, his mother and her boyfriend smoke in their house, even when Tim is there.)

The bottom line is that we’ve known for years that his mother wants Tim to die. She likes the money he brings, but other than that it’s clear she has no use for him. But Tim has plugged on anyway, thanks to the quality of care he gets at our house and the prayers of so many who love him.

Though for years we’ve begged the social services agency we work with to do something about Tim’s mother’s neglect of him, they’ve always kept their distance, always said they say they can’t get involved, because of a mother’s rights. This has always been so angering to me. What about a child’s right to a decent life? How does that not count for anything?

For the past few months we have pleaded with Tim’s mother to take him to the doctor, since we knew he was getting worse. But all along she refused, until last week, when he finally got so bad he was taken to the hospital, where he was diagnosed with aspiration pneumonia.

And now it seems she’s taken advantage of what’s happened to finally get her wish for Tim’s demise. Because of her decision to cease all efforts to heal him, they’re now only giving Tim “comfort care,” including morphine, which is a respiratory suppressant. Without his tube feedings and fluids, it will only be a few more days before he passes.

My dad is a registered nurse, and after speaking with the doctors and nurses, he knows Tim had a fighting chance if Tim’s mother had continued his feedings and i.v. fluids.

Tim is still alert; he smiles and laughs when my parents or I am there. If once this week while talking about Tim I have used, or thought of, the name Terri Schiavo, I’ve done so twenty times.

On Friday, before he got so sick and his mother made her choice, I told Tim that he and I had a date for the Final Four. (Timmy loves basketball and fusses and quarrels at the TV when his team isn’t winning.) He smiled and laughed. I don’t see how any mother could take such joy from their own child and not fight while her child still has a chance to live.

How does a mother do this to her child? That’s what I’m really struggling with, John. I thought a mother’s love for her child was supposed to be the purest form of love next to the love of God and Christ Jesus.

And how do I keep from judging this woman? I know I’m judging her, and I’m so angry. I want to fight for this child, but there’s nothing I can do because he’s not my flesh and blood. How do I keep from hating his mother?

You’re really the only person I thought I could reach out to for a Christian perspective. I’ve prayed and asked God to either be merciful and take Tim home, or to intervene on Tim’s behalf. Am I praying the right thing? I’d really like to ask God to smite Tim’s mother down in her path, but I doubt He would be really happy with me . . . He’s probably not happy with me for just typing that.

Could you give me some insights, or at least pray for me?

Well, first of all, of course you’re going to judge the poor boy’s mother. Wrong is wrong. You’re not judging her soul; you’re judging her actions. You get to do that: you get to call wrong wrong. You’re supposed to do that. We all are. Why else have a conscience?

And you can right away jettison the weirdly enduring myth that a mother’s love for her child is necessarily sublime and wonderful and cosmically inspired. It’s not. Most mothers love their children in that special, super-intense way, yes. But most is a very long way from all. If I had a nickle for every mother I’ve known who neglected, beat, abandoned, emotionally tortured, or in any other way basically did everything she could to trash the life of her child, I’d buy Disneyland and Disney World—and let every kid in for free forever.

It’s so sweet that you believe that, as you so well put it, “a mother’s love for her child is supposed to be the purest form of love next to the love of God and Christ Jesus.” Sweet, but, alas, also wrong. It’s terrible that your first experience with Deplorable Moms is that of poor Tim. That’s like having the first spider you ever see be a nuked-up tarantula. But, as I’m sure you know, Tim’s won’t be the last reprehensible mother you’ll ever wish you never met.

In so many ways this world really is a vale of tears. And that’s in no small part due to the endless numbers of mothers who are no more suited for motherhood than I am for piloting a space shuttle.

And yes, in praying and asking God to either be merciful and take Tim home, or to intervene on Tim’s behalf, you have prayed exactly the right prayer. What else can you pray for? Those are your two good options. That prayer of yours nails it.

As to your most pressing concern, which is the anger you are now harboring towards Tim’s mother. It’s really good that you’re already focused on the (God knows) sometimes unclear truth that hatred is, in fact, your greatest personal enemy. Hatred kills. And it mostly kills—however slowly, however corrosively—those who hate. So you’re wise to already be thinking of how to process your feelings toward Tim’s mom. No use letting the [expletive deleted] take you out along with her son.

The type of anger this terrible series of events has occasioned in you is the most acute emotional pain there is. Someone you dearly love has become the ultimate victim of someone else—and there is nothing that you can do about it. That’s the worst. If you are the one being victimized, at least you have some control over what’s going on; at least you can in some way control or measure your response to what’s happening: you’re engaged in that way. But when you are forced to do nothing but witness harm being done to a loved one?

Man, that is one difficult place to be.

But look who I’m telling.

So what I think it’s important to understand is that the way the anger that you are now experiencing feels to you is as nothing so much as it is anguish. The root of our word anger is, in fact, the Old Norse word angr, which means anguish, distress, grief, sorrow, affliction. And I wasn’t surprise to discover that’s so, because in its purest, most concentrated form—which is to say when it’s attended by perfect helplessness—that’s what anger is: anguish.

You are angry, yes. But mostly you’re anguished.

And now we come to the part where it’s really, really good that you’re Christian. Because if you believe that the whole point of your life is to as fully as possible identify with Christ—which is to say as fully as possible have your conscientiousness replaced, or inhabited, by Christ’s—then you actually and truly need this pain.

And let me hasten to add that I know that’s a fairly repulsive thing to hear: when you’re suffering, there’s nothing like, “But this is a good thing!” to make you want to punch somebody’s lights out. But for pain as deep and hard and real as yours, it’s … Christ time.

So much of Christianity is about peace, joy, happiness, wholesomeness, love, etc. And we all love that stuff. Bunnies! Sweets! Colored eggs for some reason! All great.

But the other side of that reality—the opposite of all that fulfilling, happy light—is shattered, ugly darkness.

Christ’s life was definitely a heavenly miracle. But just as definitely his death was an earthly horror. And if you want to really know Christ, you’ve got to really know both.

Don’t think of Tim’s mother as an evil murdering witch who needs to die. Think of her as the vehicle by which you’ve been driven directly to the state of knowing more about the pain and suffering of Christ than probably God himself wishes anyone ever had to know.

Bottom line: you can’t know Christ if you don’t know profound, dogged emotional pain. And I’m sure this isn’t the first emotional trauma of your life—I mean, obviously. But I’ll bet it’s as bad as any pain/anger/despair you’ve ever felt; this one is certain to be with you for life. It’s bad enough for you to feel as if you yourself have been rudely forced down onto, and then nailed to, a cross. Like you’ve had great strips of flesh whipped off your bones. Like you’ve had jabbed into your cut and bleeding mouth a fetid rag soaked in vinegar and bile.

Like you’ve been, in a word, massacred. Sacrificed on the unholy temple of animal ignorance.

So my advice is to run toward, and not away, from your infinitely righteous anger. Claim your pain. You’re sad; you’re angry; you’re suffering; you’ve had to stand by and watch someone you love essentially be murdered by the one person on earth who should be most driven to protect them.

You were God to Tim’s Christ.

Get some serious time alone, I say, and close your eyes. In your mind, fall slowly backwards into the darkness. Come to the moment where finally, inevitably, you feel the wooden plank pressed against your spine.

And then spread out your arms. Feel them being attached to the cross beam.

Hold that sacred pose.

And there you will be.

And there, inhabiting every last cell in your body, will be Jesus Christ.

* * * * *

So the deal is, anger is like ignited rocket fuel. If that lit fuel is in a rocket, and it’s going to help that rocket do whatever it’s supposed to, that’s great. But if when ignited that fuel is locked up in storage containers, or in a rocket that’s broken, that’s extremely ungreat.

Your rocket fuel has been lit. And for awhile that’s going to force upon you an implosion—and using Christ’s sacrifice to hold the magnitude of that implosion is real and good. But once that phase of your processing has has passed or waned a bit, you might very well find yourself wanting to do something to balance out the injustice to which you were made an unwilling participant.

Track in yourself that feeling. If after a time—or right away, for that matter—you find yourself thinking in terms of at least attempting to make right what in Tim’s case went so very, very wrong, do. Get busy. Feel the truth of the fact that you are empowered to help change the system. Something broke somewhere, didn’t it? There is deeply embedded in child welfare and related services a resistance to compromising or violating parents’ rights that entirely too often causes utter failure to protect our most vulnerable children. Anyone involved in this sort of work has all kinds of stories about instances in which, out of the fear of being sued, basically, already-strapped-for-funds child welfare people kept their distance while the parents of some poor kid continued to exact upon that kid more harm than any sane person could stand to be aware of.

That [expletive deleted] happens all the time. (And it’s certainly not any particular fault of child welfare agencies, who will get sued, and who are—to what should be our national shame—perpetually working on half a frayed shoestring.) Maybe you can help change that system. You’re in the system, yes? So you have that advantage. Start where you are; go up the food chain; find the weakest or broken link in that chain; and get busy.

Maybe there are care standards that can be defined and qualified in such a way that they can then be codified into some sort of enforceable evaluative processes. Maybe special legal protections can be formulated and then applied to child welfare cases that meet certain conditions and standards. Maybe you can help figure out a way to get child welfare agencies funded in a way that doesn’t make clear to the world that Americans really don’t care about their poorest and most vulnerable children. Talk about doing Jesus’ work in the world.

So, in summary, relative to this unbelievably awful place you’ve found yourself: Go Christ inside, and then go Christ outside.

And know that we’re with you, sister.

Please keep us up. Love to you.

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About John Shore

John Shore (who, fwiw, is straight) is the author of UNFAIR: Christians and the LGBT Question, and three other great books. He is co-founder of The NALT Christians Project and founder of Unfundamentalist Christians (on Facebook here). His blog is here. His website is JohnShore.com. John is a pastor ordained by The Progressive Christian Alliance. You're invited to like John's Facebook page. And don't forget to sign up for his mucho awesome monthly newsletter.

  • Lori Olmstead Cipot via Facebook

    WOW! Why do I often cry when I read your posts? Thank you…

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Bob-Rogers/1172366036 Bob Rogers via Facebook

    What an incredible situation to be. How blessed was that young man to have had someone, not his family, love him and care for him with such kindness and dedication. We should all hope to be so loved. Wait a minute! We have been. By Christ. Tim has just been fortunate enough to have had a physical confirmation of what we have mostly had to have through faith alone. For her to be selected to act as Christ in the flesh is powerful, and painful. But for Tim totally wonderful.

    • Original Letter Writer

      Bob, your response meant so much to us. Bless you, brother.

  • Peggy

    Yikes, am I going to open up a can of worms. I think we have to remember that we are hearing one perspective of a very difficult situation. I think that if we heard Tim’s Mom’s story, or the doctor who has treated Tim his whole life, we may hear 2 stories that may have us saying, ‘Are we talking about the same situation?’ I have worked with the elderly and disabled my entire career and rarely do these situations have one clearly right or wrong answer. I am sorry the writer of the letter is so hurt and angry. I encourage all people facing similar situations to remember that we can never truly know what is in someone’s heart and what is their true motivation.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/johnshore/ John Shore

      Right. See my answers to this complaint above. I can only work with what I’m given, see. I DO know what is in the heart of the woman who wrote me this. She’s told us, very clearly. So that’s what I address.

      • http://pegt2865@yahoo.com Peggy

        John, see above.

  • http://ReverendCarlJohnson.com Rev. Carl Johnson

    Amen, John. I wish the writer Peace and Understanding. Often, that eludes us.

    • Original Letter Writer

      Bless you, Rev. Carl.

  • http://www.facebook.com/senarae Christie Landtroop via Facebook

    I cried too.. and I love this part: “Go Christ inside, and then go Christ outside.” Amen.

  • Laurie

    What Peggy said. I have a disabled child and everyone thinks they know better what to do for her. The author of the letter made a mistake by thinking he could read the mother’s mind and then his anger took off from that point. He should double check his clairvoyance omomentor before he goes off on rants.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/johnshore/ John Shore

      See my answer to this complaint above. I never said a word about reading the mother’s mind. I ONLY addressed the only thing I literally could: the feelings/mind of the person who wrote me.

      • http://pegt2865@yahoo.com Peggy

        John, I was not referring to you. I was referring to the writer when saying she knew the mother didn’t really want to deal with Tim anymore. You never said that.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/johnshore/ John Shore

          I was answering Laurie.

          • Peggy

            No problem and I agree with the advice you gave her. She is hurt and grieving. Whatever the circumstances of Tim’s life, family, medical care, etc., she lost someone she loved.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/johnshore/ John Shore

          Gotcha, Peggy. Thanks.

    • http://brickandtimber.wordpress.com/ DR

      Why don’t you back off a little, stop making this about you and pay attention to the actual letter writer and John’s intent. This is not your story, it’s hers and John was responding to that and he did so beautifully. You have totally inserted yourself into this story and hijacked it because you for whatever reason, chose to take it personally and make it about you. You also have no idea what’s going on here – if John and others choose to trust the story and react to it in supportive ways, it’s none of your business. You recreating the dialogue because it doesn’t reflect your specific scenario is

      rude and inappropriate.

  • LSS
    • LSS

      I don’t know if anybody opened this link, but i posted it because it is WAY too common for parents to kill or otherwise abuse their disabled child with no other cause than they were not expecting to have a kid like that. Of course i cannot know this specific case closely, but it would not be the first or, unfortunately last time that something like this happens.

      Most readers identify with the parents “oh what would i do if i had a kid Like That?!” … Nobody identifies with the disabled kid that, if nobody was making him miserable could be perfectly happy being alive, except those of us who were the kind of kid their parents weren’t expecting. The kind that walk out in front of cars because they saw something shiny. The kind that it takes them 20 years to learn to talk. The kind that no matter their intelligence may never be able to hold a job. The kind that despite their apparent ability to hold down a job, may never manage to act like a real adult. The kind of kids that my in laws and my parents had. Or people just like us but with more problems, physical as well as neurological differences…

      Every time i read that he will be better off soon, i think How Arrogant!! How dare you imply that he doesn’t have the same right as you to stay alive. How would you like it if somebody looked at the problems in your life and said “Oh well if we kill her, she will be better off in heaven.”

      PWD have been surveyed and they claim a HIGHER quality of life generally than people in general. That means people with more trouble are MORE glad to be alive. But there are always others thinking that the burdens on society should be just shuffled away to make room for the real people.

      This lady Harriet Mc Bryde Johnson was a hero of disability rights, she died, way too soon, just a few years ago.

      http://www.racematters.org/harrietmcbrydejohnson.htm

      I’ve linked to an article she wrote about Singer, the ethicist who thinks we should all be exterminated at birth (all the too-problematic ones).

      She worked with NotDeadYet, whose name should be self-explanatory.

      http://notdeadyetnewscommentary.blogspot.com/

      • Andrew Raymond

        Boy, I can relate to that anger. As someone on the autism spectrum (Aspergers) we recently had that hideous case in the Bay Area where the mother of a lower functioning autistic son killed her son and then herself. And then where did the sympathy go — TO THE MOTHER!!!. How bloody wrong is THAT!

        The means are the only difference from that mother and Tim’s that I can see from this perspective. And like you, LSS and writer, it makes me very legitimately angry.

        • LSS

          yes, this is exactly an example.

          And if it wasn’t clear from my comment, i’m coming from the aspie perspective, too.

          Some would say we don’t know how it’s like for the more disabled, because we can talk or go to college or whatever a particular other person might never do. But i know loads of people with more and other disabilities and as long as people aren’t making them miserable, they quite like being alive thank you very much.

          • Andrew Raymond

            We seem to be on the same page here (though personally I prefer ‘aspergian’ to ‘aspie’.) Since we both post blind I have to wonder if I know you elsewhere :-) .

            In my not especially humble opinion, we ‘higher functioning’ disabled need to be the ones to speak out loud and long about this kind of thing. Those less able to functions are our brothers and sisters in both condition and in Christ.

        • http://www.barnmaven.com Barnmaven

          I too was absolutely horrified by the amount of sympathy given to the Bay Area mother who killed her severely autistic son. There’s been quite a bit of commentary in the blogosphere amongst those of us who are parenting children with autism and other disabilities about wanting to alter the perception that parenting children with disabilities is some horrible jail sentence. Its NOT. It can be hard sometimes, crazymaking sometimes, but its just like anyone else’s life in that there are hard days, impossible days, good days and amazing days. Having a bad day or even years of bad days is not sufficient reason to murder your child.

          Yes, we have bad days at my house. But we have days where our life is so brilliant it is blinding. On the really bad days I just try to remind myself that eventually the pendulum will swing and that there will be a better moment somewhere around the corner. It doesn’t hurt that my son has a smile that could melt the South Pole and he somehow knows just when I need to see it most.

  • Rick Eubank via Facebook

    Powerful message in this story!!! Thank you for sharing. Today is a day I needed this message!!

  • Sue Heilig

    Dear John, I’m having a little bit of trouble immediately seeing Tim’s mother as an ugly, awful villain who wishes to have her child die. We don’t technically know all of Tim’s medical situation except for what is being seen through the eyes of someone understandibly distressed by the loss of him. As a hospice nurse, I work with these types of patients and the dilemma that tube feeding can cause in terminally ill patients. The writer mentioned Tim was sick from an aspiration pneumonia which is indicative of an intolerance to filling the stomach artificially when the body no longer digests as it had previously. She also mentions using morphine as a respiratory depressant. This is not used as a means to stop the patient from breathing but to relieve the distress of “air-hunger” that is experienced when lungs are filled with fluid (imagine someone holding your head under water). The writer also states Tim’s mother decided to stop feeding him. This can not be done unless there are serious contraindications to administering the feed. In working with the disabled population we often find caregivers who are so protective of these individuals that they are unable to recognize the effects of or the progression of muliple chronic diseases that become end-stage. Repeated aspiration pneumonia, sepsis and malnutrition from a body shutting down and losing the ability to utilize the artificial feed being infused into it are hard to recognize and accept by those who love the individual. The result is often that the pt suffers prolonged pain, discomfort and suffering. Is there a chance Tim’s mother over 18 years has come to know and accept this and has chosen to aim his medical care for his peace and comfort rather than to futile interventions that are harming him? Please consider it.

    • Allie

      It worries me that the letter writer mentioned Terri Shiavo as if it were clear that we would side with the people who wanted to keep her alive. When in fact her autopsy revealed that she was unarguably totally blind and almost certainly had no consciousness since she had very little working brain. Her family imagined she was responding to them, seeing, and tracking balloons, for example, because they wanted to believe that very much. I feel for them, but that doesn’t mean I think they should have gotten their way.

      • Original Letter Writer

        Allie,

        As for my mentioning Terri Schiavo, I only mentioned her because now I understand the pain her parents experienced. Bless them! Tim was still laughing last Friday. He could hold my hand, with a grip so firm I had to switch fingers often. The only comparison is in that Terri and Tim’s feedings were both ended, and ultimately that is what will lead to both of their demise. I didn’t mention it to engender sympathy, I only mentioned it because I empathize with Terri’s parents, who also did not have the legal right to make the decision regarding their daughter’s care.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/johnshore/ John Shore

      You’re right: we don’t have the whole story. I never get the whole story. What I get is the writer’s version of the story: that, and only that, is all I have to speak to. So that’s what I do. To HER her story is true; it’s that pain, and that pain only, I’m in any position whatsoever to address. I’m not an investigative reporter.

    • Original Letter Writer

      Sue, I hope you will look at my comments above regarding Tim’s medical condition. He’s been on a feeding tube for over five years and has not had problems. It would be different if we had not begged, since the fall, for him to take him to the doctor with his worsening cough. Did you miss the part where John mentioned that my father is a registered nurse? He has advised Tim’s mother for month’s that he believed an infection was present, to please take him to the doctor, that he needed antibiotics so that it wouldn’t progress to this point.

      Tim has had a do-not-resuscitate order since he was 9 years old. He’s lived to be 18, which says something for his quality of care. This is not the first time he’s been near death, but each time he’s bounced back. He’s only in “pain, discomfort, and suffering” now because he doesn’t know what it’s like to be hungry. His i.v. came out this afternoon, the one source of the morphine to ease his pain. And do you know what his mother did? She wouldn’t let them put it back in. They couldn’t put the morphine in his peg tube. So now the child will be in pain and suffering. Far be it from me to judge though.

      • Andrew Raymond

        Baloney and other nonsense, writer. You are, and SHOULD BE judging actions as John said. Refusing him morphine under these circumstances is virtually an act of deliberate torture.

      • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/johnshore/ John Shore

        whoomp. there it is.

        • Andrew Raymond

          Did I say wrong, John???

          • sayla1228

            He’s (john) in agreement with you.

          • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/johnshore/ John Shore

            Yes (thank you, sayla): I was responding to “Far be it from me to judge.”

    • http://brickandtimber.wordpress.com/ DR

      Do you understand that he was speaking to the heart of the letter writer? How could John know the other side of the story?

      Compassion and empathy don’t mean that we have to know all sides of this story. That those of you have jumped into a situation that is tragic and unbearable to make sure that the Letter Writer’s experience is cast into doubt seems so inappropriate to me. She’s lost her – for all intent and purpose – child. I realize you’re well-intended but there is a time and a place for this kind of comment. I wonder if it’s serving you more than this woman in her loss.

      • Andrew Raymond

        DR, point well made, as ever :-) .

        I am also hesitent to make any excuses for Tim’s mother. I see ample evidence from the letter writer here to put her in the wrong, unless you are calling the writer a liar.

  • mike moore

    to Tim’s loving big sister,

    if there remains a chance for recovery for Tim and your family is willing to be his guardian, I would side-step social services and go directly to a family-law attorney for emergency intervention. Court orders to re-start feeding and fluids can be issued within hours in a case like this (I know, first-hand.) The hospital should be able to refer you to someone. You say Tim is now 18, and what was true in the past, in regards to his guardianship, may no longer be the case. Given your family’s history as a primary caregiver, I believe most courts would at least hear your request.

    whatever may happen, you and your family are amazing, and no one knows that more than Tim.

    • mike moore

      I would add, sadly but honestly, that the comment from Sue Helig, just prior to my own, is very well said and does indeed deserve thoughtful consideration.

  • Libby

    A gracious response that is once again on point, John. I thank God that there are people such as yourself and the tortured soul who wrote this letter. The only encouragement I can give, besides keeping everyone in this situation in my prayers, is to suggest someone in Tim’s respite family petition the court to be made his Guardian Ad Litem – or at least to have one appointed for him. This person would act in Tim’s interests only and could reinstate therapeutic services if the courts rule that would be in his best interest. It’s worth a shot… Blessings and Peace to you, dear writer. I hope you know how much of Christ’s love is showing in your letter.

    • Original Letter Writer

      Bless you, Libby. I wish I had known about the Guardian Ad Litem option earlier. But now I fear it’s too late.

  • Allie

    I find that when I’m in trouble the best prayers are sometimes the simple ones: God, help me. Thy will be done.

    If you feel it would be the right thing to do, there may be advocacy groups which would intervene on his behalf. Good luck.

  • Elle Nicole via Facebook

    I wouldn’t be so eager to pass judgment on the mother in this situation.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/johnshore/ John Shore

      Elle: please see a few comments above for my response to this complaint.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Paula-Orman-Hall/1168221154 Paula Orman Hall via Facebook

    I hope your letter writer will have some ‘alone’ time with Tim..to tell him how much she loves & cares for him; to share with him how much joy he has brought to her & her family. I hope that in the end, he does not suffer or experience loneliness because of an uncaring mother. I will pray that sHe, in all her Divineness, will take Tim in his sleep with your letter writer holding his hand.

    • Original Letter Writer

      Paula,

      Bless you for your response. I know that our precious Tim will never experience loneliness. He has been sick many times in the past, and I have always sung a song to him, Jars of Clay’s “Jesus’s Blood Hasn’t Failed Me Yet,” but I change the lyrics for him. I’ll sing “There’s one thing I know, that He loves Tim so”. He loves to have his name sung in the lyrics. I haven’t been able to go back to the hospital, because I’m afraid of what I will say to his mother, and I want to remember him like he was last Friday, when he laughed and held onto my hand. He knows he’s loved, that’s the one thing I take comfort in.

  • Eirin Hamilton via Facebook

    “Christ’s life was definitely a heavenly miracle. But just as definitely his death was an earthly horror. And if you want to really know Christ, you’ve got to really know both.”~ profound and often overlooked. Thank you for such wise insights like these.

  • http://www.facebook.com/buddy.rasberry Buddy Rasberry via Facebook

    John, this was an excellent response, and it most definitely spoke to me.

  • gretchen

    So well written and so meaningful from both of you. My mom is in nursing care. She reminds me of Tim. She wasn’t supposed to live past 1997, but she has so much love to give, and so much given to her. Thank you for being a caregiver that truly cares for your “family members”. That kind of care keeps them alive doing Jesus’ work because it is done unto them, too!

    I really hope that you take that anger and drive it for the greater good. Please update so we know how everything’s going! Praying for Tim!

  • Jennifer Edwards

    John, what you said about dealing with anger is spot on. Anguish is the crucible in which our faith is truly refined.

    That being said, I think the out of hand condemnation of the mother of this boy is uncalled for. We don’t know the whole story. I’ve spent a lifetime trying to figure out the motivation of a very abusive mother, who never should have had children. What I’ve learned is that there can be serious, fundamental issues (stress, mental illness, etc) that cause a person to react horribly to bad situation.

    I’m praying for both of them, and the boy.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/johnshore/ John Shore

      Jennifer: As I’ve said a few times below (not that you could know that, of course): you’re right; I don’t have the whole story. I CAN’T have the whole story. I only have what I’m given. So I accept that for what it is—being the emotional truth of the writer, for sure—and address only that. That’s all I have; I have no context for anything else. I don’t … do investigations of the whole story, or anything. I speak to her pain, and nothing else. Cuz … no choice.

  • http://www.unchainedfaith.wordpress.com Amy

    John, what a compassionate response to such a difficult situation.

    Reading through the comments, something occurred to me. Others have pointed out that the letter writer’s perspective is only half the story, and that we shouldn’t be too quick to judge Tim’s mother. I agree, but there’s another dynamic here. The letter writer is coming from a pretty powerless place. She loves this young man, but has no say in his care. It might not matter if his mother were a saint–she might still be angry with her. It’s just easier to justify it if it feels like there’s good reason.

    I know what that’s like. My husband’s brother had severe medical problems his whole life. At 27, he had a stroke. My in-laws decided not to continue treatment. I remember in my grief thinking that surely they could try; surely he didn’t have to die yet. I was angry with them. I was angry that I (with my medical training!) had no say in his care. Thankfully, I was able to move past that, and I still enjoy a loving relationship with my in-laws. But how much harder would it have been if they were people I didn’t fully trust and love? And if they hadn’t been family?

    I hope that the letter writer finds peace and is able to say goodbye, and that her family can be part of helping Tim spend his remaining days in dignity.

  • Original Letter Writer

    John,

    Thanks for posting your response. It brought so much comfort to our family. I read the comments. It pained and angered me to read some of the comments. I wish I could answer each one, but as this is done anonymously, I can’t. It would be different for me if his mother was even mourning the impending death of her son, but as she told one of us in a recent visit to the hospital “I’m fine with it.”

    To clear up some of the medical information, Tim has been on a feeding tube for over five years, and has tolerated the feedings well, with no other previous symptoms of pneumonia. His coughing has progressed in recent months. We have begged his mother on numerous occasions to seek medical treatment. On one occasion in the fall, we even put his green and yellow boogers in a baggie and sent them home so she could physically see the presence of infection. But still she did not take him to the doctor. My father is a registered nurse, he recognized the signs of Tim’s worsening condition months ago. My whole point is that it would not have progressed to this point had his mother sought medical treatment when she was first advised. This child might not have been in the hospital with pneumonia now if he had been treatment in the fall when we began asking.

    I really wish I had known about the guardian ad litem earlier. By this point, it is probably too late. This Saturday will be a week since has not had any nourishment. In fact, we just received a call that his i.v. came out, the i.v. that was providing his morphine. The mother would not let them start another i.v., even to administer morphine, the “comfort care” she desired. They couldn’t put the morphine in through his tube. What now? This child has to lay there in pain, uncomfortable, tossing and turning.

    • Allie

      I am so sorry. I believe you fully about the mother’s attitude. When my foster daughter was in a car accident some years ago, her mother came to the hospital. She asked to have a moment alone with her daughter. I knew better but I was younger then and not as strong as I should have been. However, I did keep my ear to the door. And within seconds of my leaving the room she had gone from this sweet concerned mother to cursing and berating her daughter while she sobbed, unable to move from her bed to get away from her. That was the last time I ever made that mistake. I don’t understand what is wrong with some people. The only qualification to be a mother is a working uterus, and that’s no guarantee of anything. Crack whores and serial killers can get just as pregnant as anyone else and they don’t suddenly become wonderful people when they give birth. There is no magic love machine that turns on when someone becomes a mother.

      Please forgive me for misunderstanding what you meant about Terri Shiavo and I hope I haven’t caused you pain. I don’t think you’re a bad person at all for being angry and I wish you the strength you need to hold on to your good heart despite your anger.

  • Valerie Puryear via Facebook

    Thank you John, the letter made me want to go out and wrap my hands around that mother’s neck Your reply made me think..and fall back.

  • Robert Baden via Facebook

    I wonder how long the letter writer has known this family. Did the mother’s addiction start after her child was born? Some people crack under the strain of caring for an ill relative.

  • http://www.facebook.com/djbeatright DJ Boatright via Facebook

    Amazing. I needed to read this today.

  • Bethany Jean

    I would hope that someone pulls the plug on me when it is time. The mom may not be the monster that some believe her to be. She never asked to have a profoundly disabled son. His birth and diagnosis was a death of a sort to her dreams of a normal healthy child. Perhaps her drinking is the way she chose to deal with her own disappointment. That doesn’t excuse it but it might be an explanation.

    I had two children die shortly after birth. I still mourn them. What is worse is that the reason for their deaths is because of child abuse done to me. I retreated into myself after their deaths and stayed there for a very long time. Finally I began to understand that my babies have a much better life in Heaven than they ever would have had with me.

    Tim will have a better life too. God could heal him 100% if that is HIS WILL for Tim but maybe God wants to bring him home where he will be happier than ever before. Maybe Tim has already done what God sent him here to do. Tim’s life is ultimately in God’s Hands alone. I can completely imagine hearing God saying to Tim “Welcome home son. Thanks for doing such a great job for Me”

    • andie

      I, too, have instructed those who love me to unplug me when there’s very little or no chance of recovery. But it’s clear from the letter and the olw’s comment a few inches below this one that that is not Tim’s situation. This young man is not comatose, braindead, or riddled with cancer. He has aspiration pneumonia. That sh*t doesn’t have to be fatal if you keep nourishing and treating the patient. Maybe it is spiritually his so-called “time”, but it is not medically the end of the story. Or at least it wasn’t until the mother decided he wasn’t worth keeping around. In conclusion: nice fuzzy warm thoughts you have there, but I think the olw would disagree with you. I am sorry to read of the loss of your children and glad that you’ve achieved some peace. May God bless you in the future.

      • Original Letter Writer

        Andie,

        Your comments bring up a point that so many seem to be missing. He was responding to the antibiotics well until his blood pressure dropped. That was when his mother made the decision to stop his feedings and all i.v. fluids. He might have recovered. That’s what makes it all so hard to bear.

  • buckeyebadger

    Tim has been blessed by and been a blessing to his “adopted family”, and this sad and painful end to his journey is heartbreaking for me. I am the mother of an adopted, disabled son, and have sat in terror at his bedside before impending surgeries three times (with another due next month). I love him with all my heart and soul, and it is hard for me to sympathize with a mother who would ignore the chances she had early on in Tim’s latest illness to intervene, no matter what her circumstances. Of course we have only one side, but on that side is amazing love. Your words, John, especially about closing her eyes, and taking on the pain and anguish as Christ did on the cross, took my breath away. May Tim’s “sister” and her family find the comfort they need in your words and in Christ. Hopefully they will find ways to make Tim’s life have even more meaning in the days ahead as they work to change things for other children like him. And they should carry with them in those difficult days ahead not only the bittersweet memories of their time with Tim, but the knowledge that their “brother/son” saw Christ every day in their eyes, their hearts, and in their love and care for him, and now will soon rest comfortably in His arms.

  • LSS

    My previous comment was so critical but i do like the part where you encourage her to change the system. I hope it’s NOT too late for this kid and there can be Guardian ad Litem (i can’t believe the family member that’s a medical person didn’t know about that) but either way, changing the system for the next kid whose parents want him dead (and there will be)… That is a really worthwhile thing to do.

    • Original Letter Writer

      LSS,

      No, we did not know of the guardian ad litem. My father’s specialty does not often come into contact with issues that require the services of a guardian ad litem. Another reason I am so angry with the “system”, meaning the social services system, is that I believe they should have suggested such a response, instead of taking the hands-off approach. The system, as John points out, clearly needs to be changed.

  • http://www.poesies.com Gina Cirelli

    The people that I was adopted by were no more fit to be parents “than I am for piloting a space shuttle”. They were alcoholics and narcissists, but they managed to make a decent sum of money. Catholic Charities didn’t even do a background check, as my aunt didn’t even know they were thinking of adopting and one day they showed up with me. Needless to say, I, who had become an only child, was horribly neglected and emotionally abused.

    I know this has nothing really to do with this post, and I apologize. This post just brought a tidal wave of anger through me, as I was given a second chance to have good parents, but hey, the Catholic church gave away babies in those days. Anger, so much anger. On bad days I want to sue, and on good days I thank God for the opportunities that a middle-class upbringing has brought me in spite of all the pain I had to endure.

    I guess what I really should have done was write a letter to you myself, John. My point is, yes, I agree, there are some really sucky parents out there. And then there are people who have sucky parents thrust upon them by incompetent churches.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/johnshore/ John Shore

      Whoa, Gina. Man, there’s such a clear tone that happens when people are speaking the full truth directly from their hearts. Bless you, girl.

    • Andrew Raymond

      Agreed, John

  • Andrew Raymond

    Original writer, bless you for being there for Tim as long as you have. I interact daily with a LOT of single mothers with autistic children who display amazing love for them. You have clearly had that for Tim, which is an even deeper beauty.

    I can’t even begin to comprehend the full depth of the anguish you must be experiencing. In my autism activism we see similar cases ALL too often, and even THAT is heartbreaking to me.

    John, I love your dream for the writer’s direction toward action. Writer, I would love to see you take that path. You have already displayed amazing gifts of faith and compassion.

    Peace and the love of Christ upon you both!

    • Original Letter Writer

      Andrew,

      Thank you for your kind words. I couldn’t love Tim any more if he were my own child. I pray that when it is all said and done that I can find the strength to move towards action.

  • Robert

    Hi John. I thought your response to an unholy situation was spot on. In the Upanisa Sutta, the Buddha gives a discourse on dependent arising. In it he notes that, “Joy has a dependent condition. What is that dependent condition? The answer, monks, should be faith.

    “Faith also has a dependent condition. What is that dependent condition? The answer, monks, should be suffering.”

    Don’t turn away, don’t push it away, and don’t fight it. Just be with it, in faith.

  • Laura Gossert via Facebook

    I just read through many of the comments and one thing stands out for me because my mother just passed away in January through Hospice care. The letter writer seems very upset about the iv for morphone being taken out and I have to wonder if they are giving him a liquid form of morphine under the tounge (which is what we did for my mom), to keep his pain controlled. I at least hope that is the case.

  • HJ

    What a gut-wrenching letter. To the writer, I’m so sorry you and Tim and your family are having to experience this. And I’m sorry that somehow his mother still has parental rights. It is evident how much you love him. I’m sure he knows that too. Prayers and wishes of peace to you all. <3

    John, what a nice response of compassion and empathy.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Michael-Cash/1465206502 Michael Cash via Facebook

    Turn it into great grief and cry a river, breathe deeply, and hope you can regain your strength with the help of family and friends.

  • Sunshyne Williams via Facebook

    this is a sad story but nothing can be done legally

    • FishFinger

      See, that’s the thing. Maybe this matter is important enough to break the law.

      I am not encouraging anyone to do anything *cough cough*, but giving someone a bribe or hiring a shady person to frighten the mother into doing the right thing might, HYPOTHETICALLY, help solve the problem.

      • LSS

        Not smart. Ethics aside, if the family goes to jail for doing something illegal they can’t take care of the kid or each other.

        • Diana A.

          Good answer, LSS.

        • FishFinger

          What would really not be smart is not considering every option in a situation like this. Again, I’m not encouraging anything and I don’t think this is a 100% way to go, but I don’t think using a little persuasion force to save a child’s life would be unethical.

  • vj

    Once again, John, you amaze me with the depth of your compassion and understanding for those in pain…. Such wonderful insight and advice, again. It’s no wonder people turn to you in their darkest despair – you always find a way to shine a light into that darkness (and not in a flippant “there’s a light at the end of the tunnel” kind of way, but in a deeply truthful way).

    “Go Christ inside, and then go Christ outside.” – magnificent!

  • Melissa Chamberlin

    I angers me (yep, I get angry over this too!) that our society sees anger as something that is bad. Anger is the emotion that keeps this world in balance. It isn’t anger that is bad, it is how people express their anger through violence…but anger can be so strong that even the most passive person can lash out in violence, verbal or physical. I don’t think that we can experience the fruit of the spirit, love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, and self control, without first figuring out how to turn our anger into change. The key here is that the fruit of the spirit are OF THE SPIRIT and the way that we get to them in this sometimes painful and unfair life is THROUGH the spirit…there is no other way. I makes us seek a better understanding so that our life can have peace.

    Sometimes that fruit can only come through compassion. Sometimes the only way that I can remain civil toward people that do utterly evil things is to understand that there is a reason for this mother’s life. Hurt people hurt people. While she has not taken on the responsibility to work out her pain and suffering in her own soul, and everyday she makes her issues the world’s issues, there simply is a very good reason why she is who she is. Her actions, here, are horrible, almost unforgivable from a human standpoint. Deplorable! If this did not anger you, I would ask you to check yourself for a pulse. Your anger shows that you see something terribly wrong and you want it to stop! More people need to care enough to get angry. Thank you for being angry. Thank you for searching high and low to stop this chain of events. This is one of the most important events in your life. You have been trusted to act to save this young man’s life.

    The reality, however, because of this fallen world (trite, I know, but I don’t know how else to say it) you probably will not succeed. That should make you even more angry, as it does me. It should spur you on to do good so that this does not happen again. It will change the course of your life and your heart. It may feel like you are raging and out of control and that scares you. Remember, anger was a gift to you from God. It is not bad, what you do with it can be “bad” however. Your lesson in this is to figure out how this deplorable action will make you a better person, more compassionate, more loving, more tolerating. A young man is losing his life and you may or may not be able to stop that (and without your anger, you would not even be trying) but the outcome of this event (because of your anger) will be one person (you) who has survived well through it, and hopefully you will use your anger to make sure that this does not happen to another. You are the only one that you can change, and unfortunately, it will be through the radical acceptance of what is happening. Use your anger! Don’t wish it away, work with in it, and be careful not to cause more pain while you do. And please, do not waste time or energy judging yourself for this righteous anger. It is GOOD!

    What brings most of us together on John’s blog is the common denominator of suffering and anger. Each one of us who read John’s blog are on our own path trying to deal with the pain of being abused, neglected, traumatized, bullied, and/or marginalized. The other common denominator with his readers is that we all want to learn how to love better. You can bet that we have all desired to do crazy things to evil people…I know I have. I know you won’t do that. But hopefully you won’t allow this anger to bring out the worst in you, but the best. If it doesn’t hurt, you aren’t doing it right. It is going to hurt, it is going to be hard, and I promise, it will be rewarding. I believe in you! AND, I am so grateful that you are angry.

    Things that have worked for me in dealing with this sort of anger is first to get it out. Write this mother a letter and allow yourself to say whatever comes to your mind. If you do it right, it will never leave your hands because it will be so full of vile words and vomit (for lack of a better word) that you will probably be a little embarrassed that you could actually say those things. It is ok. Those feelings and words are already swimming around inside of you and chances are you cannot think a rational thought because of them. Get them out. It is cathartic. This is for you. Once it is all out, you will be able to make room for other healing thoughts.Give yourself an entire day to do this, it is hard, and it is exhausting, AND it is rewarding. Sit in these emotions and notice how getting them out lifts some of the heavy weight on your soul. I believe that when Jesus talks about judgement, he is asking us to allow him to deal with the other person, and he is asking us to deal with ourselves. You can do this. And please, no matter how much you will want to send this letter to that mother, don’t. Don’t do it, don’t do it, don’t do it. You will regret it and NO good will come from it. (That will be the self control Jesus speaks of :O) I believe in you, and I feel you. Thanks for bringing this to the table.

  • http://Www.soul-full.mysite.com Beth

    I admit I haven’t read the 79 previous posts, so this may be redundant. First, let me add my condolences. Tim was very fortunate to have you as a care giver.

    When I first noticed anger (my Christian training implied women who were good Christians never were angry) I met with mynspiritual director who

    pointrd out that God created us with the ability to feel many emotions. We humans judge them as good or bad, but it isn’t the emotion that is good or not, it is how we use those feelings.

    Wilberforce was so incensed by the slave trade that he worked for years to have it banned in the British kingdom. Ghandi led peaceful protests. I could go on and on about people who have been ANGRY and channeled that for good. I agree with John that this is a demonstration of the Christ within you.

    The other noticing I have is that Tim’s mother was more than likely encouraged by the medical staff to consider cessation of “extreme measures” to keep him alive. This is an ongoing ethical issue. How does one decide when treatment is no longer in the best interest of the person unable to speak for their self? At what point do we recognize that we do not have unlimited financial resources and how do we decide who should recieve those resources? If Tim is still alive, you can take this before the hospital’s ethics committee.

    I hope that you will find a spiritual director or soul friend to support you. I will pray for you in these dark days.

  • Kimberly Moser Musci Phillips via Facebook

    Ephesians 4:26 talks about not “reacting in sin” to what provokes us. And not letting anger fester w/in us. That’s our path. We’re also supposed to give things to God, because it’s His job to ferret out what’s in everybody’s heart. Easier said, for sure. And you covered the channeling/handling of anger well.

    If over the last 10yrs, this family has repeatedly tried to involve DFS, and yet apparently no other involved parties, like MDs or other health providers who have “duty to report”, have found evidence of neglect/abuse….

    And while this woman’s father(RN) spoke to the hosp staff, it’s doubtful he was given full medical info. Unless he has been designated by the kid’s mom on a full release, the hospital staff can’t really disclose much w/out running afoul of HIPPA confidentiality mandates.

    This is the mother’s responsibility, to make medical decisions for her child. Invoking Terry Schiavo also invokes the years-long battle undertaken by her parents, against her rightful next of kin (her husband, in this case) to fight against TS’s own expressed wishes. In their grief, and admitted anger @ their son-in-law, they believed and hoped for yrs, claiming many things that were–sadly for everyone involved– ultimately determined to be a medical/scientific impossibility all along.

  • Donald Rappe

    I don’t think I have read a more powerful response to the question of what to do with anger. Holy week is coming. I can only pray for everyone involved.

    Lord have mercy. Christ have mercy. Lord have mercy.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/johnshore/ John Shore

      Christ have mercy.

  • Kent

    I don’t want to comment on the particular case in the OP because the information we have is limited and naturally one-sided. But I find it disturbing that the trend in the comments seems to be that withdrawing life support is automatically an evil thing. There is a fairly clear ethical line between allowing death to occur, and causing death. And sometimes allowing death is the most christian thing to do. Regardless of the long term potential for recovery, the fact remains that medical care for the very ill is often brutal, and tantamount to torture; to the point where many ICU survivors suffer from PTSD as a result of the “care” they receive. When there are no easy options, and the choice lies between weeks to months of medical torture (and as a physician currently working in an ICU who loves his job, I don’t use that word lightly) vs. a pain free and peaceful death, sometimes the most Christian thing to do is to let God take her child home. Just because we can torture a person and inflict pain and suffering on them in order to keep their heart beating, doesn’t necessarily mean that we should.

    • vj

      Except that, in this particular case, part of the LW’s anger stems from the fact that her family tried for MONTHS to have the boy’s mother seek medical treatment for his *then* relatively minor infection, which has now become a life-threatening condition. If his current condition were the result of a sudden-onset severe illness then your point would be more applicable. It’s the negligence leading up to the current situation that is the most troubling…

  • Jamie DeVriend via Facebook

    There are some things that people simply can’t reply to over the range of conflicting emotions something like this creates.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Lonnie-Cavenee/1282031245 Lonnie Cavenee via Facebook

    It ain’t easy.

  • http://www.facebook.com/sarita.brown1 Sarita Brown via Facebook

    this is what i wanted to say to the woman who mothered Tim. You just lost a son. You have the right to grieve and to be angry for his neglect and for the fact that no one called you. this is going to take a lot of time. you do not have to forgive her right now. you have to grieve.

    • Original Letter Writer

      Bless you, Sarita.

  • http://www.facebook.com/deborah.doehr.kim Deborah Doehr Kim via Facebook

    Wonderful response to this woman’s anguish in the face of an awful situation. Thank you, John, and God be with this lady to help her “go Christ.”

  • Terri Antonovich via Facebook

    We forgive as we have been forgiven …. A simple decision,feelings are irrelevant . the Lord will bring the comfort

    • Melody

      A simple decision? Feelings are irrelevant? Are you KIDDING ?? How dare you trivialize the seriousness of this situation and this woman’s feelings because your head is in the ground. Forgiveness is NOT easy in a situation where a drunken mother has essentially abandoned her son’s life. You are unbelievable and insensitive.

    • Original Letter Writer

      I am not comforted. I am still very angry. It was not a simple decision, in my opinion. If he had truly been shutting down, as the mother says was her excuse, he would have died before now. It’s been a week that he’s been without nourishment. A week…

      • danielle

        Wow, Terri. If you indeed would be capable of shutting off your feelings like that, you’re either a saint of barely human. No, that’s a bit harsh. Perhaps you’ve never been in a horrific situation about which you could do nothing? Perhaps you’ve been so fortunate in your life that you’ve never been hurt by anyone? I don’t know, but I do know that forgiveness is a process and it’s a lot of things, but without feeling? Oh, THAT it most certainly is NOT.

        @Letter Writer–The only comfort here is being with him in any way you can. I know you can’t bear to see him in this state, but go to him. The regret of not being there in these last days will haunt you, believe me.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Blaine-Williams/100001220897612 Blaine Williams via Facebook

    powerful response; the part about the underlying relationship of anger with anguish is profound. Over the last several years, have thought often about the relationship of anger to pain. Somebody hits us, we get angry because it hurts. A lover cheats and we get angry becuase it hurts. But I have never gone as far as to think about anguish; will now.

  • Allie

    Original letter writer, can we please hear from you if the situation changes or Tim passes? I would like to know how you’re doing; I’m thinking of you and praying for you.

    • Original Letter Writer

      I will definitely let you all know. He’s still holding on, but he’s been without nourishment for over a week now. My dad went to see him on Friday. My mother and I can’t bear to go. Dad said he doubted he would make it through the weekend. Honestly, I prayed that if he has to die that today would be the day because of this significance of this holy day. I thought what a day for Tim to enter the gates of Heaven, the same day that Jesus Christ entered Jerusalem to fulfill his work. I will keep you posted.

  • Susan

    I’ve thought for a long, long time that the place where our system goes the most wrong is that it considers the “property rights” of the parents over the well being of th child. Kids are torn from happy loving foster homes (no, I know some are pure horror too- but there are lovely ones as well) because their serially incarcerated parent is out of prison…and wants the welfare check. Parents like Tim’s mom who are basically given incentive checks to keep custody even though they are known to be neglectful. We would have a lot more happy endings if the happiness of the kids and the hopeful loving homes waiting for them would be considered first.

    • Diana A.

      Yes. I agree with you 100%.

  • http://www.facebook.com/DianeReischling Diane Re via Facebook

    @Terri Antonovich: it’s actually our job to comfort one another. Feelings are completely relevant, particularly when someone’s been vulnerable enough to share them, asking for support. I’m sure that’s what you meant.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Robert-Solon-Jr/697081831 Robert Solon Jr via Facebook

    I am in anguish over this as well.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Ashley-Cohea/100000024967834 Ashley Cohea via Facebook

    This makes me so very sad. One of the absolute worst ways to go. This poor poor child! And how awful for the letter write and their family. My heart breaks.

  • Christienne

    Call an attorney immediately or bring the hospital social worker in ASAP. Tim is 18 and an adult. If his mother has Power of Attorney and is deemed unfit for such responsibility, then the court must appoint a conservator who is fit. Most hopefully be your dad. Good luck.

  • Aliza Worthington via Facebook

    There are no words.

  • danielle

    Tim’s options may be limited (although, like someone else said, get an attorney on this). I cannot imagine the kind of pain you’re in (and take John’s advice for meditating on it), but no matter what else you do, you’ve got to change your focus. Yes, that woman is appallingly cruel, but there’s a young man who relies on you, who loves you, and needs you right now. Remember that, remember your love for him. There is no changing what’s happened. All you can do is be with him NOW, in this moment, and give him all the comfort you can. Just BE THERE.

    You’ll both be in my prayers.

  • Original Letter Writer

    I wanted to give you all an update about our dear Tim. It has been 23 days since Tim last had his tube feedings or i.v. fluids. For some reason, he is still hanging on. It is the longest we have ever seen someone hold on without nourishment or fluids. I don’t know what God’s plan is in all this. I keep praying that the Lord will take him home and end his suffering. A minister told me something so comforting . . . that Jesus is feeding Tim and he is not suffering. I’m really clinging to that right now, as it’s one of the few things that keeps me from falling into a deep depression.

    Late last week, the insurance company stopped hospital coverage, and the doctors sent Tim home with hospice care. Now, his mother and her boyfriend have him lying on a couch. They didn’t even want his hospital bed from our home. The agency for which we work chose not to seek legal action, as his mother is Tim’s next-of-kin, and it’s ultimately her decision as to Tim’s care.

    I’m mentally, physically, and emotionally exhausted, and we are still in desperate need of your prayers. We also care for a young lady, a full-time placement in our home who has autism. She has also been Tim’s sister for the last seven years that she has lived with us. She doesn’t understand where Tim is, and it’s hard to explain to her. If anyone has suggestions as to how we can help her say goodbye to Tim, I would appreciate them. She’s been in a cycle of tantrums and bad behaviors, as her routine of Tim being at our house has been disrupted. We’re trying not to discuss the situation in front of her, as she cries when we cry (very unusual for most children with autism).

    It’s been a long, hard unusual situation, and I will do my best to keep you posted. Please continue to pray for us.

    • mike moore

      Hi, I think many of us will wonder, is there a reason your family decided not to seek independent legal intervention, sidestepping Tim’s family and the agency which placed Tim in your care?

      I had to intervene, legally, when my grandmother had a stroke while visiting a (crazy bitch) aunt, and our aunt decided to use the opportunity to cut my grandmother off from the rest of the family unless we gave them money. Judges take these situations very seriously, and if all is have you explained, I think you’ll find the court sympathetic.

  • Davi J Martin

    As a Physician of 34 years practice behind me, I have dealt with death and dying issues more than I can recall. Also, circumstances vary widely, from the terminally ill from incurable illnesses, the ravages of aging which make life intolerable, and even the final days of persons with mental defects (organic – now politically incorrect yo call “retardation”) including autism and Aspergers. It is never easy for the loved ones involved – especially the devoted caregivers, nor should it be the topic of gossip, criticism for those who would judge and condemn them when they decide for the afflicted person – out of love – that life at any cost – without cognizance of it by the suffer – is justified, nor morally, ethically, theologically necessary. We all depart this life when the good Lord chooses to receive our soul into His eternal, loving embrace. Just because a caregiver decides to discontinue life support or extraordinary measures (and yes, feeding, hydrating a person who has no life enjoyment can be extraordinary) and the person continues to “exist” – merely breathing, heart beating longer than expected, is not an indication that the decision was wrong nor “sinful. Our bodies have automatic functions which persist long after basic needs are not provided. It has nothing to do with “Divine” judgement nor should we condemn persons involved – lest we impale our very souls with our un-Christian words. Rather, caregivers/decision makers deserve our support and love more than ever at these times. No decision to stop life support is easy – it is heart/soul wrenching. The adage of “what would Jesus do…WWJD”…comes to mind. He would lovingly embrace those involved with compassion, unconditional love and if sin was involved – He would extend forgiveness not condemnation – just as He NEVER condemned a single person while on Earth – nor does He now or ever will…we condemn ourselves by failing to love all as He loved us…as we wish to be loved. Namaste…David

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/johnshore/ John Shore

      I don’t suppose you’re the same “JDuck” who often comments on my posts over on HuffPo?

  • Terri Antonovich

    Apologies to the writer of this piece , my response, which only came to light today, was meant for another story all together, about a guy who was asking how he could know if he had truly forgiven someone ..in any case this is story is about anger not forgiveness ..I don’t know how it got miss posted, again apologies ..