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The National Catholic Bioethics Quarterly

Volume 16, Issue 2, Summer 2016

Rev. Tadeusz Pacholczyk
Pages 215-224

Suffering in Extremis and the Question of Palliative Sedation

The difference between partially and completely eliminating an individual’s state of consciousness through the use of pharmacological agents seems particularly significant in the final phases of dying. Remediating pain and suffering by means of palliative sedation and the complete shutting down of consciousness raises ethical and spiritual concerns about categorically precluding participation in one’s own death. Given that, at the end of life, suffering almost invariably imposes itself on us in some form, we are challenged to reflect on how our dying process should appropriately incorporate and take cognizance of that suffering, even as we acknowledge the value and importance of palliative steps to remediate the suffering.