Friday, December 30, 2016

Living alone

Recently we hear besides 'Well-Being' the phrase 'Well Dying' but the fear expressed by an article in the Catholic Times is that these phrases may be used actually in opposition to what we hold as Catholics especially the phrase 'Well Dying'. One can easily understand this as a euphemism for assisted suicide.

Words can be made to say whatever the speaker wants them to say. When life becomes cumbersome and the person's quality of life is no longer seen as of value many feel it's common sense to end it. We are not obligated to take extraordinary means to prolong life unless one chooses to do so but life always has value and ordinary means to sustain life are necessary.

Gravely ill patients without hope of recovery will be allowed to die by choice or with the consent of a family member is a law in Korea that will take effect in 2018. This, of course, will easily be used in ways that were not intended and we will have the acceptance of assisted suicide. The well dying law does not legalize assisted suicide but only the rejection of life-sustaining treatments when there is no hope of recovery. 

However, sadly, there are many who for one reason or another are living alone and die alone only to have their bodies discovered many days after death. Here we have a failure on the part of society to concern itself on the dignity of life for all its members.

According to Ministry of Health and Welfare in 2015 those who died alone numbered 1,245. This number is gradually increasing. Half of them had no family. Nuclear families and one person families is a reason for this situation and a problem that society needs to face. One person families continue to increase which means the problem will remain.This problem is not the same as the 'well dying' issue except in that we have a devaluation of life and this is shown when we have persons dying alone and the bodies discovered later.

Since society is getting older we will have more people living alone. Not that it is limited to the old but we do have an increase of those living alone and the possibility of dying alone. In one of the centers concerned with the elderly, their studies show that over 1/4 of the old people living alone have no contact with society.

The words 'death alone' and 'death from unconcern' will continue to increase. This was the topic of an article wishing to get the church and society involved in searching out those living alone and find time to share feelings with them. The breakdown of solidarity and rampant individualism in society needs to be addressed by those with faith.