PHI 413 Case Study: End of Life Decisions Essay

PHI 413 Case Study: End of Life Decisions Essay

PHI 413 Case Study: End of Life Decisions Essay

Death and Dying
The current health practice continues to evolve in response to changes in people’s behaviors, practices, values, and other factors. Amid these changes is an increased emphasis on spirituality and other practices that support a patient’s holistic healing. End-of-life care and religion are inseparable since patients need hope, assurance, and spiritual support during this critical stage. As a result, health care providers should adequately understand patients’ needs at this stage to provide competent care. When appropriate, health care providers can join families and religious leaders in preparing patients for the afterlife if they believe in it. The objective is to ease mental anguish and promote the idea of a good death, as underlined in the Christian worldview. The purpose of this paper is to analyze death and dying based on George’s case study.

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George’s Case Study
Death is usually a devastating experience, particularly when it is not due to old age. It separates people from their loved ones, and the process of dying can be painful in case of a terminal illness. George has been diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). Commonly, the life expectancy of patients with ALS is between three and four years, although some might live up to ten years. Sadly, patients with ALS experience a painful dying process since they lose the ability to speak, move, eat, and breathe. The prospect of George experiencing this pain and increased dependence on family members prompts him to consider voluntary euthanasia. The secular, medical, and Christian worldviews contradict about the practice and its rationale. As a result, health care providers caring for patients like George should ensure care practices and support align with the patient’s religious beliefs.

Interpreting Suffering with Emphasis on the Fallness of the World
Among the central themes in Christianity is the fall of the world and how people separated from God due to their disobedience. The concept guides Christians in everyday life and explains most experiences in life, including joy and suffering. Death is among the painful experiences that Christianity gives meaning to. From a Christian perspective, as the Bible explains, sin causes both spiritual and physical death (Ankerberg & Burroughs, 2020; Hoehner, 2020). The implication is that death is inevitable due to humans’ sinful nature. Therefore, all humans must die at some point, and the causes of death vary depending on the circumstances. Illness is among the common causes of death.
To understand the link between sin and death, it is crucial to explore the genesis of the fall of humans. The entire story is explained in Genesis, where the first humans to be created disobeyed God. The disobedience broke people’s relationship with God and had severe consequences, including pain, suffering, and illness (Ankerberg & Burroughs, 2020; Hoehner, 2020). These experiences associated with grief and miseries are part of human life and are universal to humans because all have sinned. Based on this perspective, George can view his suffering as part of painful experiences universal to humans because all have sinned and fallen short of God’s expectations.
As George continues to understand his illness and aftermath, the Christian perspective can help him and the family to know what illness and death entail. Besides being universal to humans, death is both physical and spiritual. Physical death is universal, but spiritual one can be avoided depending on a person’s relationship with God. Despite his condition (ALS) causing physical death, it does not have the capacity to cause spiritual death. Therefore, George should focus more on the connection between his illness and spiritual death and concentrate on practices that help him avoid it as much as possible.
Interpreting George’s Suffering with an Emphasis on the Hope of Resurrection
Patients need patient-centered care during critical stages such as end-of-life. Spirituality is part of this care, which integrates a patient’s religious beliefs into the care process. The concept of resurrection in Christianity helps patients and families to view illness and death positively and cope with mental, emotional, and physical pain. From a Christian perspective, death is not the total annihilation of humans leading to nothingness. Instead, it is a transition to eternity, and those who die in Christ will resurrect in the future and get new spiritual bodies (Hoehner, 2020). These new bodies will be acquired when Jesus returns.
The concept of resurrection shows that death does not signify the end of life. Therefore, George’s illness and imminent death are not a punishment. Instead, George has commenced the process of eternal life since Christians will be resurrected and live better in the future. The hope of an afterlife is pivotal in George’s emotional and mental health, whose stability is critical for patients with terminal illnesses. Stability is needed for effective decision-making and a healthy relationship between the patient and health care professionals. Such a relationship also allows health care professionals to incorporate the family into the care plan as situations compel.
Resurrection further demonstrates what happens to the human body after physical death. In this case, it shows the need for physical death and what the afterlife involves. According to (Hoehner, 2020), the spiritually resurrected body is a renewed bodily creation free from sin and its consequences. In this form, people will still be humans on a much grander scale; all that causes joy will be available, and what causes pain will be eliminated. If differently stated, the resurrection will restore God’s relationship with humans. They (humans) will enjoy life as God initially designed before the fall. Guided by this idea, George should perceive his illness and imminent death as a transition to a better life, not an end leading to nothingness.
Christian Worldview: The Value of George’s Life
Patients seek different interventions in various circumstances depending on how they regard health and life. The value of human life is differently interpreted and guides patients, families, and health care practitioners when making critical decisions. The Christian worldview could inform George’s view by reminding him about the dignity of human life and the sovereignty of God. From a biblical perspective, every human possesses innate dignity, implying that life has a natural life irrespective of a person’s race, age, and functional capacity (Hoehner, 2020; White, 2020). Innate dignity is achieved through humans’ creation in the image of God and the obligation that God gives humans to protect life by all means. Due to ALS, George’s functional capacity is expected to decline, which could be interpreted as a loss of his overall value. However, the Christian perspective stresses that life’s value does not decline regardless of a person’s health status.
Besides the innate dignity of life, the Christian perspective also explains authority and ownership in connection to a person’s body. It illustrates that humans do not have the authority to terminate their life since it is not theirs. Several bible verses (Job 14:5, Hebrews 9:27, and Psalms 139:16) describe God as the one who determines, appoints, and ordains humans’ lives and the time of their death (Hoehner, 2020). Therefore, God has authority over life, death, and suffering at all points of human life. This authority further shows that euthanasia and related end-of-life decisions must be made while considering God’s sovereignty over life and death.
Christian Values and Considerations when Opting for Euthanasia
Patients opt for euthanasia due to various reasons. Loss of autonomy, inability to enjoy activities, and fear of suffering are common factors (Wiebe et al., 2018). Mostly, decisions are based on medical grounds and not informed by Christian values and ethics. One of the dominant values and considerations from the Christian worldview that should George when opting for euthanasia is stewardship over God’s gift of life. According to Hoehner (2020), requesting euthanasia is akin to deliberately abandoning one’s stewardship over life, which is God’s gift. The other consideration is dying in Christ as a condition for the afterlife after the resurrection. If George is seeking this life and continuous relationship with God, he must be determined to die in a manner and timing that does not ruin this relationship.
The other important consideration is the idea of a good death. By design, euthanasia’s guiding principle is a good death, which is peaceful and does not prolong suffering (Hoehner, 2020). Although patients deserve such death, taking their own life and assisting someone in dying contravene the idea of a good death from a biblical perspective. It contravenes the fundamental principles since hastening death intentionally for any reason distorts the idea of a good death, as the Bible recommends (Hoehner, 2020). Such acts fail to acknowledge God as the sovereign who owns life and death.
Morally Justified Options in the Christian Worldview for George
Health care providers have a moral and professional obligation to assist patients medically at all stages of life. George’s case study typifies end-of-life since he can only live for a maximum of four years. During this period, it is morally acceptable to assist George with pain management options to reduce his suffering as much as possible. Options include antiepileptic drugs, anti-inflammatory drugs, routine bowel regimens, and palliative care (Kwak, 2022; Howard, 2023). These options are medically feasible and do not hasten death in any way. As George continues to receive care for pain management, health care providers should also ensure that he gets adequate social support. This is important for positivity and reducing mental distress that can worsen the condition.
Being in George’s Situation and Decision-Making
Illnesses and death are devastating, particularly when characterized by painful experiences. Effective decision-making when in George’s situation would involve combining practices that ease suffering and adequate preparation for imminent death. Religious practices, medical, and non-medical treatments can be combined to facilitate the transition. Suitable examples of religious practices include prayers and reading religious texts for hope and mental well-being (Rego & Nunes, 2019). If not restricted to the Christian worldview, George could also opt for euthanasia when suffering intensifies or when he becomes totally dysfunctional. However, he should ensure the option is ethically and professionally guided, and patient autonomy is observed. Decisions should also be collaborative where the patient, family, and health care professionals are all involved, and their opinions and perspectives are valued.
Death and painful illnesses are distressing to patients and their families. Health care professionals also encounter extreme distress when caring for patients classified as high acuity, near-death, and incapacitated. Due to the certainty of death, patients should be adequately prepared and supported to ease suffering and die peacefully. George’s case study illustrates the multi-dimensional nature of death and illnesses since the Christian perspective condemns the idea of euthanasia despite its medical appropriateness. It further shows the need for health care professionals to be aware of a patient’s worldviews and the principles that guide their decision-making.
Ankerberg, J., & Burroughs, D. (2020). How Is Christianity Different From Other Religions?. ATRI Publishing.
Hoehner, P. J. (2020). Death, dying, and grief. Practicing Dignity.
Howard, I. (2023). FYI: Pain in ALS. ALS Association.
Kwak, S. (2022). Pain in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis: a narrative review. Journal of Yeungnam Medical Science, 39(3), 181–189.
Rego, F., & Nunes, R. (2019). The interface between psychology and spirituality in palliative care. Journal of Health Psychology, 24(3), 279–287.
White, N. H. (2020). God, humanity, and human dignity. Practicing Dignity.
Wiebe, E., Shaw, J., Green, S., Trouton, K., & Kelly, M. (2018). Reasons for requesting medical assistance in dying. Canadian Family Physician, 64(9), 674–679.


Case Study: End of Life Decisions

George is a successful attorney in his mid-fifties. He is also a legal scholar, holding a teaching post at the local university law school in Oregon. George is also actively involved in his teenage son’s basketball league, coaching regularly for their team. Recently, George has experienced muscle weakness and unresponsive muscle coordination. He was forced to seek medical attention after he fell and injured his hip. After an examination at the local hospital following his fall, the attending physician suspected that George may be showing early symptoms for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), a degenerative disease affecting the nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord. The week following the initial examination, further testing revealed a positive diagnosis of ALS.

ALS is progressive and gradually causes motor neuron deterioration and muscle atrophy to the point of complete muscle control loss. There is currently no cure for ALS, and the median life expectancy is between 3 and 4 years, though it is not uncommon for some to live 10 or more years. The progressive muscle atrophy and deterioration of motor neurons leads to the loss of the ability to speak, move, eat, and breathe. However, sight, touch, hearing, taste, and smell are not affected. Patients will be wheelchair bound and eventually need permanent ventilator support to assist with breathing.

George and his family are devastated by the diagnosis. George knows that treatment options only attempt to slow down the degeneration, but the symptoms will eventually come. He will eventually be wheelchair bound and be unable to move, eat, speak, or even breathe on his own.

In contemplating his future life with ALS, George begins to dread the prospect of losing his mobility and even speech. He imagines his life in complete dependence upon others for basic everyday functions and perceives the possibility of eventually degenerating to the point at which he is a prisoner in his own body. Would he be willing to undergo such torture, such loss of his own dignity and power? George thus begins inquiring about the possibility of voluntary euthanasia.


The practice of health care providers at all levels brings you into contact with people from a variety of faiths. This calls for knowledge and understanding of a diversity of faith expressions; for the purpose of this course, the focus will be on the Christian worldview.

Based on “Case Study: End of Life Decisions,” the Christian worldview, and the worldview questions presented in the required topic Resources you will complete an ethical analysis of George’s situation and his decision from the perspective of the Christian worldview.

Provide a 1,500-2,000-word ethical analysis while answering the following questions:

How would George interpret his suffering in light of the Christian narrative, with an emphasis on the fallenness of the world?

How would George interpret his suffering in light of the Christian narrative, with an emphasis on the hope of resurrection?

As George contemplates life with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), how would the Christian worldview inform his view about the value of his life as a person?

What sorts of values and considerations would the Christian worldview focus on in deliberating about whether or not George should opt for euthanasia?

Given the above, what options would be morally justified in the Christian worldview for George and why?

Based on your worldview, what decision would you make if you were in George’s situation?

Remember to support your responses with the topic Resources.

Prepare this assignment according to the guidelines found in the APA Style Guide, located in the Student Success Center. An abstract is required.

This assignment uses a rubric. Please review the rubric prior to beginning the assignment to become familiar with the expectations for successful completion.

You are required to submit this assignment to LopesWrite. A link to the LopesWrite technical support articles is located in Class Resources if you need assistance.

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