I Want to Burden My Loved Ones

I Want to Burden My Loved Ones

Perfect for this Holy Week, an article that highlights the sacrificial nature of love.

My sister recently drew my attention to this article in First Things, a beautiful reflection by Gilbert Meilaender about end of life issues and what it means to be a family, what it means to love: I Want to Burden My Loved Ones.

Is this not in large measure what it means to belong to a family: to burden each other�and to find, almost miraculously, that others are willing, even happy, to carry such burdens? Families would not have the significance they do for us if they did not, in fact, give us a claim upon each other.

[. . .]

It is, therefore, understandable that we sometimes chafe under these burdens. If, however, we also go on to reject them, we cease to live in the kind of moral community that deserves to be called a family.

I hope, therefore, that I will have the good sense to empower my wife, while she is able, to make such decisions for me�though I know full well that we do not always agree about what is the best care in end-of-life circumstances. That disagreement doesn�t bother me at all. As long as she avoids the futile question, �What would he have wanted?� and contents herself with the (difficult enough) question, �What is best for him now?� I will have no quarrel with her. Moreover, this approach is, I think, less likely to encourage her to make the moral mistake of asking, �Is his life a benefit to him (i.e., a life worth living)?� and more likely to encourage her to ask, �What can we do to benefit the life he still has?� No doubt this will be a burden to her. No doubt she will bear the burden better than I would. No doubt it will be only the last in a long history of burdens she has borne for me. But then, mystery and continuous miracle that it is, she loves me. And because she does, I must of course be a burden to her.

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1 comment
  • What is the Tissot book you have?  I have an old edition (turn of the 20th century) of his illustrated Life of Jesus Christ According to the Gospels.  It’s in two volumes, and he arranged it chronologically rather than by Gospel.

    I wrote a paper in grad school on his use of music iconography, and in researching it I found that he was a society painter who had a powerful reversion to the Catholic faith—an interesting story.

    Happy Easter!

    (my verification word is Mass90.)