I smiled recently at these words of Winston Churchill: ‘I am prepared to meet my Maker. Whether my Maker is prepared for the great ordeal of meeting me is another matter.’ Whether we like it or not, death is something which will come to us all. An often controversial and always emotionally charged talking point, how and when we die was again the substance of a recent BBC documentary, ‘How To Die: Simon’s Choice’.
The film followed Simon Binner, a successful businessman, husband and father in his final months. He was choosing to travel to Basel in Switzerland to die, having been diagnosed with Motor Neurone Disease in January 2015. I found the film to be a sensitive yet challenging account of assisted dying, and I confess it made me stop in my tracks and reflect on both life and death.
For me the documentary threw up much more to consider than it resolved. Perhaps that was its intention. Regardless of one’s views on assisted suicide, there was much to reflect on – the nature of compassion and end-of-life care, the significance of being in relationship and living in dependence on others. Beyond all this, it was a deeply moving portrayal of real people – husband, wife, friends and colleagues – caught up in tragic circumstances.
I found the saddest part was that – so far as we know – Simon died void of the hope of an eternal life with his Maker after death. That is surely the most heartbreaking thing about many deaths, whether natural, accidental, malicious, or planned as Simon’s was.
The great rescue, engineered by God the Father and outworked by Jesus was designed, in love, to give us life and life to the full, even after death. Yet many live and die without this free gift.
As I continue to distil my reflections on Simon’s Choice, my desire is to live a life which demonstrates Jesus in such a way that people like Simon want to prepare to meet their Maker, in the now and the after. As Christians, is it not after all our mission to declare to a broken world the good news of Jesus and the glorious gift of life that he brings?
Rachel Dean has a heart for justice, travelling and laughter, among other things. She is excited to qualify this year as a solicitor. She also writes a monthly article for Keep Calm Talk Law