Volume 40, Issue 1, Spring/Summer 2020
Can a Child Die a Good Death? Child Ethics and Mortality
Jeffrey P. Bishop argues that contemporary understandings of the good death are predicated on conscious choice. This focus on rational conscious choice as the primary criterion has troubling implications for how we evaluate the death of children, whose capacity for autonomy is unclear. In this essay, I will explore ways in which the death of children creates silences, arising most notably from our ideas about the good death. In contrast, I will argue for a different model of a good death that is predicated on intersubjectivity, shared meaning-making, and presence, and which finds its foundation in Christian eschatology, which is not an escape from the present; rather, all our present actions find meaning in God. Our completeness must always and can only be found in God, and understood this way, children can die a good death.