Have you ever thought about dying? Have you imagined how you would like your final days to be? Thinking about your death may not be your first choice of things to do, but it is an important one. Life is fragile, and none of us knows how long we will live. One concrete thing we can do to prepare is decide what type of care we would like at the end of our life, and let others know about it ahead of time. In this article and next month’s I would like to consider the importance of end of life decisions.
In a message to participants in the World Medical Association’s 2018 European Meeting on End-of-Life Questions, Pope Francis said that when it comes to end-of-life care, treatments should always be based on human dignity with the person’s best interests in mind. He stressed that the medical options provided must avoid the temptation either to euthanize a patient or to pursue disproportionate treatments that do not serve the integral good of the person. He pointed to the importance of palliative care, “which is proving most important in our culture, as it opposes what makes death most terrifying and unwelcome – pain and loneliness.”
Here at Jennings we have supported people at the end of their lives for seventy-six years. We believe that human life is sacred, but not absolute. Death is an inevitable and natural part of life. As Pope Francis said, we are here to support people in their final days and hours. Our own Jennings Hospice carries out that mission in a most beautiful and caring way. The most helpful way each person can prepare for their journey from this life to the next is to consider the kind of care they would like to receive at that time, and express their wishes formally by completing the Advance Directives, to inform their family, friends, and health care professionals. Next month we will consider the importance of the Advance Directives in setting the stage for the final act of our lives on earth!
Mission and Ministry Matters is written by Sister Valerie Sweeney, SND, Chief Mission Officer at Jennings