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The art of dying well

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Deacon Greg Kandra - published on 11/01/16

From The Guardian: 

The Catholic church in England and Wales has brought the medieval manuscript Ars Moriendi – The Art of Dying – into the digital age, with a website aimed at helping terminally ill people and their loved ones deal with death. Like the original 15th century work, The Art of Dying Well is intended to bring religious comfort and offer practical guidance to people in the final stage of life. The modern-day version offers videos, animations and interviews with terminally ill people and their carers. Although the content is based in the Catholic tradition, the church says it is intended for anyone addressing end-of-life issues. It features real stories from dying people and their families, as well as interviews with palliative care experts. In recent years there has been growing openness in society around what many see as the last taboo.Death Cafes and other events to discuss issues around the end of life have flourished, websites such as Final Fling, which offer death planning have emerged, and an increasing number of people are using the services of death doulas. Katherine Sleeman, palliative medicine registrar at the Cicely Saunders Institute in King’s College London, said ending the silence about death would reduce fear and improve the quality of life of dying patients. She told The Art of Dying: “We prepare about the arrival of a new baby, we plan for it, we think about what we are going to buy and what we are going to call the new baby. It is part of our daily life, our conversation. Why do we not prepare for our death in the same way? I would like everyone to have a good death but we can’t achieve that unless we as a society stop whispering and start talking about it.” …The original Latin texts of Ars Moriendi included advice on deathbed etiquette and prayers, and the five temptations that a dying person might face. It was illustrated with woodcuts, one of which depicted the battle between angels and demons for a dying man’s soul. The modern digital version includes an animation, voiced by actor Vanessa Redgrave, featuring a fictional family preparing for a peaceful death. Redgrave, who has discussed wanting to die during health problems, helps to deliver the message that “Death is not the end of the story but a gateway to a better place”.

Read more.

Photo from The Art of Dying Well

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