Along with other members of my family I faced termination of treatment issues not long ago after my brother suffered a traumatic injury at the end of a long battle with cancer. It was not easy to make those decisions, even though he had left an advanced directive. Nor was it at all easy to watch him die. But they were experiences thread through with a sense of deep dependence upon God. As the Apostle Paul puts it, "Whether we live or we die, we belong to Christ."
In the final analysis, what Lord Carey and Archbishop Tutu didn't say was the biggest problem with their issued statements. They did little to point us back to God in those fateful, final moments of our lives. Instead, they focused where the larger culture does: on managing those moments and limiting pain -– on the preservation of our dignity, but not on the Christian's enduring faith in the power of the Resurrection.
Dear bishops, we all die. Not all of us can avoid pain. Teach us how to die as the children of God.