Life & Death

Why is it so hard for most of us to really face up to our own death?

In my years as a priest and as a chaplain, I have found it the rarity to encounter a person or a family who is prepared to die, legally, emotionally and spiritually. In spite of the fact that death is something we all face, without exception, and in spite of the fact that most of us have a lifetime to be prepared, when the time comes there is often confusion, disappointment and surprise.

The Pastoral Care Committee of St. Luke’s ~ San Lucas Episcopal Church in Vancouver, Washington, encountered through its ministry, many who were not prepared for and had not talked about the meaning and reality of death. As Christians, we do have a context into which death falls and we believe death is a part of life and not the conclusion of life. ‘As Fionn-barr said, “death is the whole point of life. And life, from beginning to end, with all its fleeting beauty and certain pain, is an education. An education is always intended to prepare one for what comes next.”’

In addition to preparation for death, our committee has learned that our living is enriched through preparing for death. We can actually impact the quality of our dying by the quality of our living. If we begin in midlife or even when we have children to see how important relationships are we can allow others to not fear dying and allow others to fully understand our love for them. By dealing with our own alcohol or drug abuse now, we can vastly improve our own living and our dying. By being clear about what is to happen to our affairs and our resources now, our families and friends can actually celebrate our lives, even in our dying.

We hope you will truly engage in the topics and resources discussed in this material and that in doing so you will experience the richness of living, not shadowed by the fear of dying. Paul, the New Testament writer, is very clear that the sting of death pales in the everlasting power of God’s love.

Rev. Dennis Cole

Types of End of Life Care

As a person or a person’s family face a life-limiting illness or condition, there are several types of care available. It helps to understand the differences and how to help make decisions about what type of care is needed and desired.  View Full PDF

What to Expect in Dying and Death

Death is ultimately both a mysterious process and a predictable process. Although what happens to the spirit of the person, what makes that person entirely unique is the greatest mystery we know, even though it happens to everyone. On the other hand, what happens to the physical body is well known and documented. What follows may help understand both processes. View Full PDF