Thursday, January 8, 2009

Some Thoughts on Dying

Father Richard Neuhaus, editor of First Things, died today. I am a subscriber to First Things (which may seem a little strange as I neither consider myself a neoconservative nor a social conservative) and always turned to his column first whenever a new issue arrived. Father Neuhaus had once before been faced death and wrote this about it:

We are born to die. Not that death is the purpose of our being born, but we are born toward death, and in each of our lives the work of dying is already underway. The work of dying well is, in largest part, the work of living well.

Catholic prayer books often had prayers asking for "a good death." I think about my parents and how they faced their deaths. My father faced his disease and fought it hard. When I was asked by the deacon how I would describe how he faced his disease, I gave four words -- faith, hope, humor, and courage. He died at home, in bed, in his sleep.

My mother died one year to the day thereafter. In some ways she welcomed it, hoping to be with my father. The strength she exuded to all around her disappeared the day my father died. Her family and friends were not surprised when the end came. For her, it came after 3 months in a hospital room.

What does make a truly good death? For no matter what we do, how much tofu we eat or laps around Central Park we run, we all die. Most of us hope and believe that there is something on the other side of death. One prayer to Saint Joseph asks "drive away those enemies of my soul so I can end my life in peace."

So to have a good death, we should accept our fate that we will, someday die, and not lose heart before the end.


William R. Barker said...

My role models...

Enoch and Elijah!

Me... I'd like to skip the whole dying thing if that's ok with the Big Guy.


muebles madrid said...

It cannot succeed in actual fact, that is exactly what I think.