Cardinal Eijk on palliative care

Palliative care “does not add days to life, but life to days.”

Diakendag%202013%20kardinaal%20EijkJust some food for thought courtesy of Cardinal Eijk. He spoke them at last Saturday’s annual day for the deacons of the archdiocese of Utrecht, in an address about care at life’s end.

There’s more in the cardinal’s reflection that is worth some attention and reflection. A medical doctor himself, he rightly implies that society’s thoughts and opinions on life and death are by now so far removed from what they have been for centuries, and from what the Church today still maintains, that many today don’t even know what the Church teaches. They assume they know, but reality is different.

Likewise, many people assume that there are only two choices when faced with an incurable illness: unbearable suffering until the end, or ending a patient’s life. Reality is much more diverse: through palliative care we may remove the pain and suffering and endeavour to bring whatever ray of light we can into a person’s final days; “life to days”. In that way we not only ease a person’s suffering and respect the sanctity of his or her life but we also express the awareness that no person is alone, that no life exists in solitude. A life, even one in its final stages, even one marked by illness, has effects on other lives, and too often that effect is positive beyond our comprehension. We certainly can’t anticipate it.

And that is a far more realistic approach to life in general.


2 thoughts on “Cardinal Eijk on palliative care”

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