Dignity and Death

Consider Dame Cicely Saunders, founder of the modern hospice movement. A social worker and nurse, she was appalled at the way medical staff treated people who were about to die-in essence, ignoring them, as tokens of failure. This attitude offended Saunders as a Christian, for she knew that care for the dying was traditionally one of the church’s seven works of mercy. Since no one would listen to a nurse, she returned to medical school in middle age and became a doctor before founding a place where people could come to die with dignity and without pain. Now there are 2,000 hospices in the United States alone, about half of which have a Christian base. Dame Cicely believed from the beginning that Christians offer the best combination of physical, emotional, and spiritual care for those facing death. Now she presents the hospice movement as a glowing alternative to Dr. Jack Kevorkian and his “right to die” movement.

Philip Yancey, What’s So Amazing about Grace?p.266-7

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