Suffering and the good death
The paper examines the relationship between the question of suffering near the end of life and the euthanasia debate. It is argued that the unbearableness of suffering stems from the inability to confer any meaning on it, and that this inability is due to the contemporary conditions of dying in technological society ; the suppression of death, the usual practice of lying to dying patients, the medicalisation of death and an idea of human dignity as sheer auto-determination and independency from others, all cooperate to make living one’s death almost impossible and to suggest doing away with oneself as the only way out. It is argued that what is most needed, for patients approaching the end of life, is rather a different way of giving care, centred on pain relief and on a holistic attention to their psychological and spiritual needs ; this may help to rebuild some kind of an ethos of death, and to reconcile ourselves to our mortal nature thanks to the solidarity of care-givers who confront their own mortality as well. The movement of palliative medicine, it is concluded, is an important ally in this process.