Saturday, November 17, 2007

Planning your own memorial service...

is the class I'm teaching this afternoon to a small group of congregants. I'm not totally finished with the sermon on world religions as a source of our faith, but I have set it aside temporarily in order to prepare adequately for teaching the class.

In the run-up to the weekend, one person who will be attending asked if it would be possible to spend some time talking about pre-death matters, such as assisted suicide and preparing for death from a terminal illness. I had already planned to offer some material about Compassion and Choices (the former Hemlock Society), Memorial Societies, and the work of hospice, but his question made me think about the many health concerns an aging population has.

A couple of years ago, a fellow in another congregation decided, after years of very bad health, to hasten death by refusing food and water. It did not take long for his body's organs to shut down and bring the comfort of death. His family was in agreement with this decision and did not oppose his wishes; he was, after all, in his 90s and had lived a long, full, productive and loving life. He had no regrets and wanted to avoid a long drawn out death; he felt he had been dying for a year or more already, was very uncomfortable, and wished to move on to whatever the Universe might have to offer beyond life, if anything.

So I'm looking forward to the class, expecting to get to know this group of congregants better in a setting that offers them an opportunity to talk about one of the most intimate stages of life, dying. I'll let you know how it goes.

1 comment:

John 672 said...

I would be very interested in reading a follow up post on how that goes. I've always felt that assisted suicide was more humane the a long lingering death. Even if you do not choose to share your class notes, I would still like to hear more about your thoughts on this matter.

- John