Stephen Jenkinson - Care of the Dying

Care of the Dying

Teaching: Care of the Dying

How we care for the dying people in our midst, and how we die when it is our turn: these together are the proving ground, the cradle and the grave both, for every conviction we have about justice and mercy, about the meaning of life, about what love should look like and what it should do. They are the sum of every political instinct we have, every dream of community we’ve nursed along and every faith we’ve been willing to have in a better day. They are where every fascination about the Other World and the Big Story live, and they are where the midnight fear of Nothing comes to call. They are where our immense technical medical wizardry and mastery is visited upon you and those you love, and where the mythic poverty of our time comes to show itself. They are surely where our love of life earns its keep, or shatters. Mostly, though, they are the place where our ability to be a people is forged, or fails. They are where our village is made or broken. They are where we are most ourselves, and most alone. Together they are The Big Tent of our time.

Wherever there is that much at stake there is at least that much to learn. So it is a necessary and proper thing that all of us learn about dying and about death, about all of the before and the after, well before the time of being tested and told comes. We can learn before our gamble for more time is foreclosed upon by the passing of time.