There are many traditions from around the world regarding the treatment of the dead. There is an especially lovely Jewish ceremony; the deceased is ritually washed by a continuous flow of water poured by several people from several jugs. The ceremony is not complete if there is a break in the flow of water.
At last year’s Unitarian General Assembly a motion supporting Assisted Dy-ing was deferred to allow more time for consideration. One result of this is an excellent publication compiled by Fulwood Old Chapel. It contains thoughtful and moving reflections on death and dying by Unitarians from around the country.
Many people say that they are not frightened of death but of dying; of indignity and anguish. Much of the testimony in this report urges us to regard the dying as human beings capable of making their own choices. The report also ex-plores the spiritual aspects of Assisted Dying – the Rev Feargus O’Connor calls it ‘rational and altruistic suicide’.
The debate about Assisted Dying is very political. My fear is that something is overlooked in this debate, or rather someone; the person who assists. As we consider changes in the law let us be mindful of our interdependence. Dying is an awesome and intimate transition. Let us not forget that the way we live and die bring opportunities for thankfulness and grace.
Facts, Arguments, Personal Testimonies and Spiritual Reflections of Assisted Dying is available online at www.unitarian.org.uk. We also have copies in the Vestry if you would like to borrow one.
(Fulwood Old Chapel website: Discussion Pack plus see the Unitarian Debate)