Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Holy Dying

"It is a great art to die well, and to be learnt by men in health..."- Jeremy Taylor

I thought of those words from the dedication of his book on Holy Dying by Jeremy Taylor, written in 1651, as I read Dying Shouldn’t Be So Brutal by Ira Byock in the NY Times:
Our health care system is well honed to fight disease, but poorly designed to meet the basic safety needs of seriously ill patients and their families. We can do both. We must.

People who are approaching the end of life deserve the security of confident, skillful attention to their physical comfort, emotional well-being and sense of personal dignity. Their families deserve respect, communication and support. Exemplary health systems and healthy communities deliver all of this today. But they are few and far between.
He is talking about Holy Dying.
Less than 45 percent of dying Americans receive hospice care at home, and nearly half of those are referred to hospice within just two weeks of death. Hospice was designed to provide end-of-life care, but this is brink-of-death care.

DYING is not easy, but it needn’t be this hard.

Most Americans don’t want to think about dying. There’s an assumption that dramatically improving how we die would be too complicated or costly. Thankfully, the opposite is true. Over the past two decades the fields of geriatrics, hospice and palliative medicine have demonstrated that much better care is both feasible and affordable.
We should be willing to talk about death and dying, because if we don't, we will never get to that holy dying and our needs will not be served well.
As the end of life approaches, whether death is welcomed or feared, there is a lot we can do to make the process of dying safer.

Read his whole opinion.  It is well worth your time and maybe, just maybe we will get mad enough to change how the end of life goes for all of us.

O eternal and most gracious Father, I humbly throw myself down at the foot of thy mercy-seat upon the confidence of thy essential mercy, and thy commandment that we should come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may find mercy in time of need. O my God, hear the prayers and cries of a sinner who calls earnestly for mercy. Lord, my needs are greater than all the degrees of my desire can be; unless thou hast pity upon me, I perish infinitely and intolerably; and then there will be one voice fewer in the choir of singers who shall recite thy praises to eternal ages. But, O Lord, in mercy deliver my soul. O save me for thy mercy's sake. For in the second death there is no remembrance of thee: in that grave, who shall give thee thanks? ‘O spare me a little, that I may recover my strength, before I go hence, and be no more seen.' ‘Thy will be done on earth, as it is in heaven.' Amen. (Jeremy Taylor)

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