Dying Well

Spiritualpractice 22

Death is a frightening prospect, for the spectre of death destroys any illusion that we are in full control of our lives. While death does not separate us from God, death does evoke despair and anger. How is it, then, that some people are able to die with the assurance that death is not the final word? No one can count on dying well in a biological sense. Yet some Christians radiate faith and love even when their bodies are failing. Caregivers can radiate such faith and love as well, communicating merciful presence of God in another way through their loving care for the body of one who is dying. In the Christian practice of dying well, Christian people do things with and for one another in response to God’s strong love, translating into concrete acts our belief in the resurrection of Christ, and of ourselves. In the life of Christian Faith, lament is joined with hope. Dying well embraces both lament and hope, and both a sense of divine judgment and an awareness of divine mercy. Even in death, we are not alone. Christians harbor confidence that God is actively working against the powers of death in all creation. What kinds of hope can we offer the dying, besides that of elusive and high-risk physical cures? What are ways the church can convey that one’s life continues to matter to the community, no matter what kind of death? Paul writes that our baptism involves us in dying with Christ (Romans 6:3-5). How does living with this awareness prepare us for the dying of our bodies? How does cherishing and mourning a person who has died in turn prepare you for the death eventually coming to you? In Life and in Death, we are God’s. For spiritual practices that might help in learning how to “die well,” click here.