Church hosts session on ‘Death with Dignity’

  • Apr. 2, 2014 9:08 p.m.

In wake of more discussion about euthanasia laws in Canada, the Sunnybrook United Church will hold a life planning information session April 3 entitled ‘Death With Dignity’.

“Some of the things we are going to cover are distinctions between physician-assisted suicide and euthanasia as well as the distinction between withholding interventions and euthanasia and opportunities for advanced care planning,” said Linda Irvin, the minister at Sunnybrook United Church.

Advanced care planning is an umbrella term that includes personal directives, powers of attorney, wills, goals of care designation and how to talk about all of these issues with families.

Clinical Ethicist Dr. Victoria Seavilleklein and Red Deer Dr. Michael Thain will be leading the presentation. Rev. Dr. Lee Sinclair will also participate by offering a theological reflection.

Irvin said she wanted to do this because there are many people who are not prepared for the end of life, and many who do not even want to talk about it.

She said she decided to host the event because of the conversations about people wanting to have the right to die in the way that they choose.

“We don’t talk about death in our culture. The whole topic of death has so much more to it than just preparing for a funeral – it’s the things that you need to do prior to the actual death.”

Examples of those responsibilities include the kind of care a person needs, guardianship, extent of care preferred by the dying person and who will be a final arbitrator of disputes.

Seavilleklein is a clinical ethicist in Alberta Health Services’ central zone and a clinical lecturer. She will be providing insight into the ethical debate that accompanies euthanasia, assisted suicide and withholding interventions.

Irvin said she had given a lot of consideration to holding the presentation, but realized that there are more and more people looking for assistance while discussing death.

“We’re just going to talk about what death is about. In some places, we don’t even use the word death: we use the word passed, or passed on or that a person is gone.

“This is an opportunity for information. We want people to feel welcome and relaxed about coming to have this conversation.”

To take part in the event, registration is required. Those interested can call the Church at 403-347-6073 for more information. The information session will run from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m.