When it comes to dying, all of us hope to die well. The question is, what does this mean and what does this look like?
The word euthanasia means 'a good death' and, for some, this is what ‘dying well’ looks like. Euthanasia advocacy groups sometimes refer to euthanasia or physician-assisted suicide as 'dying with dignity'. The premise behind this thinking seems to be that to die well is to die on our own terms, to assert our autonomy at the end of life, and to die how we want and when we want.
The Christian tradition, however, has a very different understanding of what it is to die well. A good death is not one on our own terms, but one which submits itself to God's will. More specifically, to die well for the Christian is to die with faith in Christ, and thus to die in the grace of God.
The Bible speaks of the ‘fear of death which subjects us to a lifelong slavery’ (Hebrews 2:15). It is this fear which leads us to try to assert ourselves in the face of death by taking matters into our own hands. However, as Christ has taken on our flesh and blood and has died in our place to give us eternal life, we need not fear death and we can die well as we trust in him.
- The Art of Dying Well
- Palliative Care Australia
- Catholic Archdiocese of Melbourne (CAM) – An informative and accessible website on why to oppose euthanasia and assisted suicide (including definitions, outline of concerns, videos from experts and further resources)