How we die

Feb 18, 2014 by

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John Longhurst’s column “Suffering, Hard Questions at Life’s End” raises the question of how we die. Melvin D. Schmidt’s response asks why the church is not more engaged in this end-of-life debate. Some corners of the Mennonite church are beginning the discussion.

About 70 people from Akron (Pa.) Mennonite Church have attended one or both of two workshops designed by people in the congregation. The first is “Final Arrangements” — what I want done with my body after death. The second is “Natural Dying” — how do I want my final days/ weeks/months to be when I am dying, and what options do I have in this dying process? The objective for each participant is to make well-informed and well-considered choices, write them down, share them with family members, proxies or close friends and file them in a secure but accessible place.

In the “Natural Dying” workshop, options for allowing dying to proceed when death is near is one of the more sensitive considerations. Processes referred to by Longhurst like “euthanasia” and “assisted suicide” are not the only options. In fact, they are the less-preferred options.

An overview of these two workshops is now being picked up by Everence and is being packaged so that other congregations can have access to them. The first of these Everence workshops is planned for this spring. Interested congregations might contact Everence representatives for information.

— Jerry Shank, Ephrata, Pa.

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