Tuesday, November 2, 2010
The great unmentionable
Being religious, however, doesn’t necessarily correlate with knowing how to die well. In my observation, Christians are no better at the art of dying than anyone else, partly because of their moral scruples about forgoing life-extending medical care. Almost everyone I know, irrespective of their religiosity, is uncomfortable with the notion of dying. I was, too, until the delicacy of my health forced a deeper consideration. I’ve read, prayed and meditated upon the meaning of my life, and my death. I don’t have all the details worked out, but I’m past most of the mental roadblocks. I’m trusting that when my faith is finally tested, this won’t prove to be a bluff. Should it be cancer that takes me down, I don’t intend to pursue aggressive end-of-life care. My medical directive is written. Pro-life as I am, I also believe that life’s sanctity doesn’t require its preservation at all costs when a lifetime is fulfilled.
What constitutes a good death is largely subjective. For me, it includes faithfully expressing my hope for eternal life. I would add to that the need for reconciliation with people I have wronged, and for repentance in general. To a greater or lesser degree, a good death should be about spiritual preparation for the next world. It seems foreign to think in these terms; it requires a deliberate effort. But taking care of business now, and not waiting until my time is short, gets me ready. My bags are packed. I have plenty of living left, but knowing that my sojourn here will quite definitely end, and having no fear of saying so, gives me that much more satisfaction in what I do and experience each day.