End of Life
The Catholic Church teaches that human life is sacred and the dignity of the human person is foundational for society. Human persons are the clearest reflection of God among us. All life has value and deserves respect, with a special concern for the unborn, poor, disabled, elderly, mentally ill, seriously ill, and dying members of our human family. God is the Creator and the gift of human life is a sacred trust. We may use this gift of life, but not assume dominion over it, having stewardship but not ownership for that gift.
During one’s life journey, every person experiences suffering, and our faith teaches that meaning can be found in suffering.
If every person is our brother or sister, “much more are the weak, the suffering and those needful of care, and they must be at the center of our attention, so that none of them feel forgotten or marginalized; in fact, "the true measure of humanity is essentially determined in relationship to suffering and to the sufferer. This holds true both for the individual and for society. A society unable to accept its suffering members and incapable of helping to share their suffering and to bear it inwardly through 'com-passion' is a cruel and inhuman society" (Spe Salvi No. 38).
In the parable of the Good Samaritan, Jesus reminds us that we cannot ignore those who are suffering around us, be they family members, friends, or complete strangers. We must care for them, but we must also speak out against injustices, and correct misconceptions of human freedom and value which can lead to abuse, neglect, loneliness, and despair.
Educating ourselves and others on end of life topics is especially important, as we will all face such issues at some point in our lives and in the lives of family members. The goal is to assist people in making good decisions when faced with questions of treatment and care for vulnerable patients at the end of life.
It is equally important to provide spiritual support and comfort to both patients and their families during these stressful times. The following sites contain helpful resources:
Palliative and End-of-Life Care information is available through the Supportive Care Coalition.