Hospice is not a place, but a concept of care. Eighty percent of hospice care is provided in the patient's home, a family member's home or a nursing home. Hospice cared for my Dad when he was dying. In my family, we are all grateful for the excellent care that hospice provided. The nurses and hospice workers truly ministered to the whole family.
Taking care of people at the end of their lives, giving palliative care to address the physical pain and bringing reassurance to people dealing with fear and frustration is truly doing something beautiful for God. How many times do we pray to our Blessed Mother, "Pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death." At the hour of our death, we need prayers and support. In popular devotion, Saint Joseph is called the patron of a happy death because by tradition it is said that he died surrounded by the loving embrace of Jesus and Mary.
We all want what is best for our loved ones, especially at the end of life's journey. It is my hope that this series of reflections, to be posted on my blog and published in The Pilot, will demonstrate that physician assisted suicide is an assault on human dignity. It must never be seen as a viable alternative to hospice and palliative care that address not only people's pain but also their fears and frustration.
The Archdiocese of Boston has developed an educational website on the Church's teachings on end of life issues, www.SuicideIsAlwaysATragedy.org
. The archdiocese is also part of a large coalition of groups from other faiths, from the medical community, and from disabilities rights groups that are advocating a No vote on Question 2. The coalition's website is www.StopAssistedSuicide.org