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JON - I have written many times to you and welcomed your wisdom and supported by scripture. This is a very important question that I need answered as soon as possible for peace of mind. My Mother in Law has been dying for a week now, there was no response and hospice was giving her medicen to go. But she continued with breathing, there were no signs or reactions to her life. So the family asked me to use the priesthood to release her from this world. I fasted, prayed and felt to dedicate the room to be hollowed, cast out any adverse spirits and invited the spirits from the other side. Then I asked everyone to leave the room. I felt impressed to remove my shoes, wash my mothers feet, I raised the bed, held her head in my hands, I placed my hands on her chin and one on her head and asked for a immidate release and stopage of her heart and lungs. She took one labored breath, a little moan and she was gone. I question is: Did I have the right to do this. Can the preisthood release someone this far gone to rest? Is there a scripture or something that can tell me this was ok. I don't want to doubt the Holy Ghost or the Faith I was given. Peace came to me and the family. But now I struggle with the unrightous use of it. Each time I kneel in prayer, I still feel the peace. Is there any thing you can share with me.
JOEL - What you did is not such an uncommon thing to do and it sounds like it was appropriate under the circumstances you described. I have seen it done a few times myself. The scriptures tell us that those holding the priesthood "shall pray for and lay their hands upon them in my name; and if they die they shall die unto me, and if they live they shall live unto me" (D&C 42:44)
Those who face extreme suffering in a terminal illness may call upon the Lord for comfort or relief from pain, and rely upon Him to prolong or shorten their days. Under certain circumstances like the one you experienced there is nothing wrong with using the priesthood with faith and inspiration from God to help end the suffering of a dying loved one. You are not really causing them to die; you are simply asking God to hasten the inevitable.
Many years ago a young teenage girl in my ward was dying from cancer. As she was laying in her bed with family around her and obviously taking her last breaths, some elders were called in to give her a blessing of release from this life. Only moments after giving this blessing she quietly passed away.
Here's the story of President George Albert Smiths's release from his life:
"On March 20, President George Albert Smith suffered a light stroke that paralyzed
his right arm and slightly impaired his speech. About this time,
Dr. LeRoy Kimball at last diagnosed George’s illness through blood
samples sent to an East Coast laboratory: lupus erythematosus, a rare
disease that affects all the tissues of the body and produces chronic
weakness. He continued to slip downhill, losing more functions
and contracting new fevers. On April 1, he calmly told his family that
he felt the end was approaching and repeated his gratitude for his
On April 4, 1951, he wrote his last journal entry: “Today is my
81st birthday. The day dawned clear and beautiful.” David O.
McKay, his first counselor, administered a blessing of release. Surrounded
by his children and grandchildren and with Dr. Kimball in
attendance, he died peacefully and without pain in the early evening."
(Journal of Mormon History, Vol 34, No. 4)
Sometimes things turn out differently. While I was going to college I worked part-time as an orderly in a hospital. One day a distraught grandmother of a newborn infant, who the doctors said had an incurable illness and would die soon, asked me to give the baby a blessing to release her from this life, so she would no longer suffer the pain of the disease. My friend and I went in to the newborn intensive care unit to give the suffering baby a blessing, but as I proceded to speak the words of the blessing I had a very strong feeling that it was the wrong thing to do. So instead of blessing her to die I blessed her that she would be cured of this disease, but that if it was the Lord's will that she should die that it would happen soon so she wouldn't suffer anymore. A few weeks later a very excited nurse came up to me and informed me that the baby we had "prayed over" was sent to another hospital for some special treatments which ultimatley resulted in the cure of the desease, and she did not die.
We have to remember that regardless of what kind of blessing we give a person the Lord is the ultimate giver and taker of life. If it is His will He will allow the blessing to have the intended effect. The peace you felt after giving that blessing is the spirit telling you that is was the right thing to do.