Whether death comes unexpectedly or at the end of a long and full life, it is important for us to consider not only the spiritual dimension of death, but to think in a very practical way about how we would want the circumstances of our death to reflect our deepest beliefs.
Given the extraordinary advances in modern medicine, not only do we live longer, but even at the end stages of life, we often have available the means to prolong life far beyond what would have been possible in past generations. What should we do? When do we let go?
The Bishops of Maryland have revised and reissued their seminal 2007 pastoral letter, Comfort and Consolation – Care of the Sick and Dying, to help parishioners begin conversations with loved ones on end-of-life issues and to re-focus attention on foundational principles of the Church’s approach to the care of the sick and dying.
This booklet helps Catholics think through the often difficult questions that arise in times of grave illness and impending death. Developed in light of Catholic teachings and in accord with Maryland law on advance directives, Comfort and Consolation includes a practical advance directive form, the Catholic Declaration on Health Care Decision Making, that Catholics can use to tell health care providers how they wish to direct their care. It covers spiritual support, nutrition and hydration, pain-relieving medication, terminal illness and pregnancy.
In addition to the booklet, two new supplementary brochures have been developed: