The underlying ethos of the art of dying well applies just as well to anyone of any, or no faith, undergoing the final journey. All of us will fall, all of us will need help, and all of us can use the experience we gain in helping people on the climb creatively for the good of others.
The slope that we all have to climb is still the same slope, and although we might not fall in the same places as did our ancestors, we will certainly fall along the way.
For example, modern medicine might have alleviated the severity of the pain we experience in many cases, but the same climb probably takes much longer, as medicine prolongs the lifespan of those in the process of dying.
In the Christian tradition, we would describe the slope that those who are dying have to climb as their own Mount Calvary, their version of the journey Jesus took to his death.
We believe that we all have our own Calvary to climb, and just as Christ fell on his Calvary, so we too will fall on ours. As Christ was helped along the way by those who loved him and by compassionate strangers, so it should be for us. As Christ offered his experience of Calvary for us, so we too can offer our Calvary for others.
All of this plays an important part in the Catholic understanding of Ars Moriendi. But the underlying features apply just as well to anyone of any or no faith undertaking that same climb. All of us will fall, all of us will need help, and all of us can use the experience we gain in helping people on the climb creatively for the good of others.
Our ‘manual’ for the art of dying well is illustrated with filmed and audio testimony from those who have made, or are making, the same journey. It uses music, stories, poetry and of course prayers and spiritual reflections, and it provides what we hope will be useful information.
Ours is an open-ended manual. Being a website, the Art of Dying Well has unlimited room to expand and add layer upon layer of material to support those who visit the site for help.
“Go forth, Christian soul, from this world
in the name of God the almighty Father,
who created you,
in the name of Jesus Christ,
Son of the living God,
who suffered for you,
in the name of the Holy Spirit,
who was poured out upon you,
go forth, faithful Christian.
May you live in peace this day,
may your home be with God,
with Mary, the virgin Mother of God,
with Joseph, and all the angels and saints.