6 thoughts on “St Polycarp and the Grace of the Elderly”

  1. Since I first read the account of Polycarp’s martyrdom in the New Eusebius in 1976 he has been a tremendous influence on my life and thinking. Now as the years creep ever onwards I pray that I may remain as strong as he did in the face of increasing weakness

  2. My mother died alone in hospital a day after I drove the 140 mile journey home. I have since wondered why God allowed that but your post today helped me accept that her death was a good one and she didn’t need us all ‘sobbing around the bed’. Thankyou

  3. There is the cultural aspect of death to consider, as well. Where the presence of sobbing and wailing family members may be viewed by some as histrionic, they in turn often view the stiff upper lip composure of others as distant and disrespectful. These differences cease to exist for the one who is dying when at their last breath their soul is entrusted to God’s mercy. I hope to receive the last Sacraments, having witnessed the comfort they bring to the dying. If not, I pray to surrender, as you say, Sister, returning my imperfect soul to God. When I was a child I was taught the bedtime prayer “Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep”. As a senior adult I pray the Act of Contrition as I sink into my pillow. With each passing birthday I sense my life coming closer to completion and am far less afraid than I thought I would be.

    • I seem, as so often, to have failed to make myself clear. When I wrote ‘A good death does not necessarily mean to die “bravely,” with sobbing family gathered round an immaculately-sheeted bed and all the paraphanalia of a text-book “holy death”,’ I was not intending to single out any particular element, still less to criticize it. I was merely contrasting what one might call ‘dying as portrayed in literature and art’ with the reality of most of the deaths I’ve attended, and consequently mintaining that the attendant circumstances of our dying are not the most important thing.

      • I understood you, Sister and wasn’t disagreeing with you, nor did I think you were singling out or criticizing, not sure where that came from? Having worked in palliative care nursing I’ve also experienced that the reality of a good death is seldom as portrayed in literature and art, as you say. My poorly expressed point had to do with the stripping away of what normally constitutes the whole package of family and cultural experience of a loved one’s death and the ease with which an individual may offer the great “Amen” of which you speak. I hope and pray we are all so blessed!

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