On Monday, I went to my son’s baseball game, worked for WND, picked up pizza for dinner, oversaw our children’s studies, and received the tragic news that Ray, one of my best friends, died.

If you’ve been reading my column regularly, you know that this is the third death of someone close to me since last fall. I lost my precious father just three weeks ago, and my dear grandmother passed away in September.

I am painfully aware of the emptiness that now fills Ray’s favorite chair, dad’s side of the bed, and my grandmother’s house. I long for the rich southern drawl of my father’s voice, the sweet smell of his forehead, and the creaking sound his knee made with every step.

It is inevitable that death will come – this I know. But what strikes me hard is the finality of it.

What puzzles and disturbs me are those who seek to hasten it.

Life is a precious, fragile gift given to us by the Creator of all. And this same Creator continues to provide us with miraculous medical breakthroughs, doctors, medicines and other means to enable us to cheat the Grim Reaper at his own ugly game and extend the life of those we love.

Yet, America continues to develop and be consumed by a culture of death. There are those who believe that human life has more value for some people than it does for others. State governments and medical bureaucracies are usurping the rights of loving daughters, fathers and wives to decide what happens to their own loved ones facing a medical crisis. In many states, if you are incapacitated or unconscious, it is a stranger – rather than a family member – that decides whether or not you receive the treatment that can save your life.

In my father’s case, when he was ill one year ago, a Nurse Of Death tried her very hardest to deny my father the care he needed to extend his life. However, I quickly recognized the Grim Reaper beneath the mask of “compassion” this nurse cleverly donned in her quest to broker the power of life and death. Because my sister and I repeatedly demanded my father receive all treatment available, he went on to live another year in which my mother, his children and grandchildren were able to share and cherish.

There is a way you can protect yourself and your family from hastened death when they are ill, injured, disabled or severely depressed. The “Protective Medical Decisions Document” enables a trusted loved one to make decisions about medical care if you can’t. Without this document, it will become increasingly difficult – and in some places is already impossible – to protect you from a stranger or the government determining your fate.

Every single person over the age of 18 needs to obtain a PMDD, fill it out, and store it in a safe place.

If you become temporarily or permanently unable to express your medical wishes, do you want an overburdened medical system to decide your fate? Would you rather the Nurse Of Death determine your level of care? Does it bother you that the same government that overtaxes you, over-regulates you and sanctions killing pre-born babies may very well decide what happens to you?

Or would you rather a loving family member who knows your values and understands your wishes make those decisions?

If you have a Living Will, trash it and start over. The Living Will typically offers no authority to family members or loved ones to interpret its meaning – that is left up to the attending physician, who very well may be a cousin to the Nurse Of Death.

My sweet friend Ray, and his beautiful wife Sheila, were lucky in many respects. They spent his last moments together in their bedroom as the cancer he had battled for two years claimed his final breath. Because of Sheila’s devotion and attention to detail, they were able to determine the level and type of care he received together. They embraced the miraculous wonders of pain control, filled their home with prayer, and counseled with knowledgeable and honest physicians committed to life. Advances in medicine gave Ray two extra years of life, and a loving family involved with his treatment decisions provided him with a peaceful death.

You and your loved ones may not be so lucky. As individual rights are methodically and increasingly being chipped away by the culture of death, we must be proactive if we are to protect our own basic right to life. Take a few minutes to read about the PMDD, then pass the word.

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