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Diagnosed with inoperable brain tumor January 2015.
Doctors told her she had six months to live.
She ended her life November 1, 2014 with legal drugs
available under Oregon’s Death With Dignity Law.
She was 29 years old.
If you were her priest, and
she came to you asking your
counsel on what decision she
should make regarding ending
her life prematurely, what
counsel would you give her?
Is modern medicine losing its humanity?
Doctor/Patient relationship emotionally sterile: friendly
contact and attention kept to a minimum.
Growth of online diagnostics
Mechanization of medicine and technological advances
In our pursuit of technological
advancement within medicine we must
not become like the sorcerer’s apprentice,
who cannot get away from the spirits he
has invoked and becomes himself the
victim of his own inventions. Are we already there?
Christianity proclaims that each and every person is a
unique creature of God, and because of that no person is
Baptismal Covenant (BCP p. 305):
“Will you strive for justice and peace among all people,
and respect the dignity of every human being?”
Christianity teaches that each person possesses a dignity
that is to be respected during times of sickness.
A person, when he/she becomes sick, does not become an
object for research or treatment but is to be treated with
respect and dignity.
Sickness is not to be dismissed as an inefficieny or
weakness, but rather as part of human existence.
The role of the physician is not just to treat the illness
or symptoms, but the whole person.
“Highly technicized medicine with its therapeutic
apparatus must not be allowed to lead to the isolation
of the person who is seriously ill and the perfect clinic
in particular must not become merely a service station
for the best possible biochemical provision; that on the
contrary a halt must be called to the lack of
consultation in our counseling rooms, to the
depersonalizing in our hospitals…by means of a
renewed dominance of the human person”
– Hans Kung
Since World War II, more people on average die in
hospitals than in their homes.
In hospitals, the dying are often alone, except for the
company of doctors and nurses who are unable to
become emotionally involved with the patient.
Upon death, a funeral home handles the body of the
deceased, from that moment until the burial or
internment, which means relatives have as little as
possible to do with the corpse – a big change from 100
makeup are strategies
some choose to hide the
natural changes that occur
to the body.
There are alternatives to this – more and more people
are choosing to cremate over casket burial.
Emergence of “green funerals” – environmentally
friendly burial practices that avoid the use of toxic
embalming fluid, expensive sealing caskets, etc.
Each year, 22,500 cemeteries across the United States
30 million board feet of hardwood caskets
90,272 tons of steel caskets
14,000 tons of steel vaults
2,700 tons of copper and bronze caskets
1,636,000 tons of reinforced concrete vaults
827,060 US gallons of embalming fluid, which usually
In the Middle Ages, pamphlets entitled “ArsMoriendi”
(the art of dying) were distributed during times of
plague, war, or famine. Their purpose was to instruct
the living to prepare for their eventual demise. We
have nothing like this in our culture today – our
popular culture avoids any rational attempt to cope
with dying and death.
People are enabled to not only live with human dignity
but also to die with human dignity.
The patient need not cling fearfully to life as the last
thing he/she possesses, but can commit himself in
greater freedom, detachment and confidence to an
absolutely reality – heaven.
In this way a struggle for health can certainly be
meaningful, but a struggle against death at all costs –
as an aid that becomes a torment – is nonsense.
Artificial prolongation of life – but what is the quality
of life that is being prolonged?
For a Christian who looks beyond this life to the one
that is eternal – death is no longer a brutal power of
For the Christian, death is no longer an enemy – death
becomes our birthday into eternity.
For a Christian, to die is to die into gratitude, a
thanksgiving for the life that was lived and a
thanksgiving for the life that is to come.
November 23 Pat Foley Funeral Home Seminar:
“Your Life, Your Legacy”