In my work with hospice, I often wonder why people have to endure pain and suffering on their deathbed. Coming from an Irish Catholic background, I still today get the message that suffering and pain is the only way to absolve oneself of the “original sin” bestowed upon us. Despite much work on my part to dispel this myth, when I am present for a particularly diffcult death, I go right back to that premise. I really need to break this pattern. Any suggestions?
Augustine of Hippo is widely attributed with coining the notion of “original sin.” My read on the genesis story (and I would say that of most modern scholars) does not concur with the horrific theology that stems from this line of thinking – that God is cruel and un-just.
I would ask you to instead of wondering what St. Augustine might think, to consider instead, “What Would Jesus Do?”
And, I know the answer to that.
It’s one you know too: have compassion for the person who is dying and lovingly witness to them their pain. And, equally importantly, have compassion and love for yourself.
You are doing holy work.
If you have a question that you would like R.Abbi to answer, please e-mail: R.Abbi@rotb.org