Last week I downloaded Robert Bellarmine’s “The Art of Dying Well” on my
e-reader for 99 cents. Bellarmine, a Jesuit from the 1600s, writes this
book from God’s perspective. Bellarmine makes it simple. He explains
sixteen things you can do to put your life in order now, so that you’ll
start living better today and be prepared for death whenever it comes.
Bellermine shows that the art of dying is not a matter of privacy
between a physician and a patient, not a contract or living will between
a patient and the extended family, and not a matter of
self-determination on the part of the terminally ill. He shows how the
art of dying is the most intimate of relationships between a us and God.
While advocates of assisted suicide seek to relieve the physical
suffering of patients, the act of providing a choice can actually create
some pressure to make a particular choice. Some choose
physician-assisted suicide to avoid inflicting a burden on loved ones.
But when assisted suicide becomes a routine medical practice, it ends up
corrupting the entire network of human relationships. Physician-assisted
suicide takes away the duty to bear one another’s burdens and perform
spiritual works of mercy.
We need to look deeper into past traditions that offer more truth on the
reality of dying than all the contemporary arguments that attempt to
remove the sting of death or rationalizes the necessity for
physician-assisted suicide. The easy way is not always the best way.