Case Study on Death and Dying

Case Study on Death and Dying


The paper is aimed at giving a comprehensive comparison between the Christian and Buddhism worldview concerning nursing care about the concept of God, illness, suffering and the issue of euthanasia. Malady and suffering in Christianity date back to the fall of man where sin is the cause of suffering while in Buddhism it is believed that pain emerges from disharmony within the inner being. Both religions regard life as highly valuable but temporary such that one cannot live forever. According to Cheng, (2017), Christians are against euthanasia as supported by the sixth commandment which forbids taking someone’s life. Buddhism also embraces non-violence or Ashima to human life hence do not permit euthanasia. An option available for George in the case study is to make peace with God and live each day at a time and avoid the possibility of euthanasia. Euthanasia is opposed to the Christian teachings, which holds that the patient have a natural death as opposed to assisted death.

Keywords: Death, Christianity, Buddhism


The conceptual basis outlined for the nursing care addresses all issues that arise in all kinds of patient care setups. The concepts assist in viewing the nursing care and may help the nurse in identifying strategies that are aimed at the provision of the right care at the right time (Liefbroer, et al 2017). The purpose of this paper is to give a comparative analysis between the Christian and Buddhism worldview and pertains to nursing care in view of God, illness and suffering and how they see religiously on the issue of the voluntary euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide. It looks at George’s situation which is contemplating his future life with ALS and begins to think of undergoing a voluntary euthanasia when the condition of suffering persists.

Interpretation of the Nature of George’s Malady and Suffering

Both Christianity and Buddhism are entirely different on the issue of illness and pain and bring a different conceptual view but similar in that they demonstrate the realism of suffering. Christianity affirms that humankind started experiencing sickness and suffering after rejecting God thus George’s suffering might be attributed to abandoning God in his lifetime. Christians further believe that there is that temporarily suffering is temporary but eternal torment in hell results from the rejection of God. In Christianity, it is also believed that God sent his only son, Jesus Christ who died on the cross so that the humanity may receive redemption (Lowis, 2015). George might be experiencing suffering because it is a way through which he can redeem himself and refocus to repentance. As evidenced in explaining the quoting of the Bible in John 14:6; “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me”.

Unlike Christianity, Buddhists indicates that God does not exist and hence no supernatural being to control the world. They hold a holistic perspective regarding health and see it as a harmonious balance of body, mind, and spirit. According to the Buddhist, health is more than the absence of illness and diseases emanate from the disharmony of the inner being. Buddhism also acknowledges the concept of impermanence, and therefore life must come to an end. By this, it means that we should not expect to experience permanent happiness since these moments of happiness come and pass. In this case, no one can permanently keep in place what he or she desires for but happy times come and pass; we, friends and those we love will one day pass by. According to Buddhists, George could be experiencing suffering which is caused by tanha and this is explained as the desires of a man. Since all our desires end up unfulfilled, it is quite inevitable that illness and suffering must follow after that (Pesut, 2016). George has attached himself to all his desires and this haunts as it involves oneself which is a delusion because the concept of self-keeps on changing.

The Value of Life in Health and Illness

The value and dignity of human life in Christianity emerge from the belief that life comes from God the creator and the knowledge that everyone was created in the image of God. George should acknowledge that his life comes from God and he is created in the image and likeness of God. Physical death is inevitable for all people (Rom. 5:12–14; 1 Cor. 15:21–22), and George has already acknowledged the imminent death.

Life is also considered as a vapor which appears momentarily and is gone in the book of James and supported by (1 Chronicles 29:15; (Job 7:6; and Job 9:25-26). Christianity holds that God is the giver of life and is the only one who can take the life away hence George should acknowledge that value in his life. Christianity also upholds the fact that a person exists in different forms including the body (physical) and the soul (eternal). Although the body and soul may suffer through illness and death, the soul is immortal, and George can get hope through repentance to go to heaven even when he dies.

Buddhism originated from the value and sanctity of life as seen in a letter of Nichiren to a follower where he states that the value of a single day of life exceeds all other treasures. George should acknowledge the fact that his life as an individual is a manifestation of a universal life force hence it is precious. Rabindranath Tagore, a poet states that the life endowed to human beings is the same in the leaves and grass. Buddhists believe that it is a great privilege to be born a human being given the many forms of life in the universe. George, therefore, should acknowledge that being human is a privilege and respect his own life (Snyder, 2013).

Buddhism upholds that there are three marks of the existence of human life and is characterized by suffering also called Dukkha. Life is considered as unsatisfactory (s. dukkha) and voids (s. sunyata) and is relatively significant according to the belief. Buddhists believe that the human realm is an opportunity for spiritual growth which provides a chance for spiritual enlightenment or awakening into the truth. They, therefore, believe in showing value for one’s life which George will be obligated to fulfill. According to Snyder, (2013), Buddhism also indicates that all people should live a moral, ethical and respectful lives due to the value attached to life.

Values and Considerations for Euthanasia

The sixth commandment prohibits active euthanasia regardless of whether the patient has made such a request. George, therefore, cannot be granted the request for euthanasia based on Christianity. The Amalekite who killed Saul to end his suffering was also killed by King David as a punishment (1 Sam. 31:3–5, (2 Sam. 1:1–16). The action implies that no life should be taken in a bid to end one’s suffering as such an act is punishable.

Human life should not be taken by anyone whether intentionally or out of careless as it amounts to sin. George will, therefore, be mandated to refrain from euthanasia and understand the fact that his life is highly valuable. Taking one’s life is not allowed in Christianity hence the health care professionals should not execute any action to hasten death. No one should take the life of another person as he or she will be subjected to punishment (Gen. 9:5–6; Rom. 13:1–7) which is also reflected in the commandment that “You shall not murder” seen in  Exodus 20:13. It is the responsibility of the healthcare professionals to refrain from effecting euthanasia on George according to Christianity.

Buddhism embraces Ashima or non-violence to human life which indicates that life is highly valuable as per the religion. Life is equally precious and should not be terminated by any means hence George should not think about euthanasia as an option. They also believe in impermanence indicating that life is temporary hence George should not be so fixated about it. According to Buddhism, George needs to make the most out of his life and overcome any suffering coming on his way. He is also not supposed to start looking into the future but should purpose to live each day at a time.

Voluntary euthanasia is not allowed in Buddhism as it demonstrates a sad state of mind where a person has allowed a physical suffering to cause mental suffering. The person engaged in helping another into death could also get the helper into a bad mental state. Non-harm is significantly stressed in Buddhism hence willful killing should not be done through ending one’s life (Wattis, Curran, &Rogers, 2017). A dead person is reborn into a new life determined by their karma and shortening such life interferes with the working of karma.

Options Available and Morally Justified

The main problem with George is that he is undergoing great fear for death and untold suffering. There are several options that George can adopt instead of undergoing euthanasia for his chronic illness. According to Christianity, George should not look for euthanasia but instead, should focus on living the highest quality of life possible(Welter, 2015). He should accept to go through palliative care and advanced life support when his condition deteriorates. The efficient management of pain will be essential in George’s care to alleviate suffering. He should also reconcile with God the creator and have faith that he will emerge victorious out of the situation.

The Buddhism view of life emphasizes that euthanasia cannot be an option for George since life is highly valued. Shortening one’s life will cause an adverse effect on reincarnation, and therefore George should focus on his next being. He should live each day at a time and avoid any stress that may lead him to more suffering. He should also bear the suffering since it is a testing just for a while. The religion emphasizes perseverance, and therefore George should not be too anxious about the future (Welter, 2015). He should make the best out of life as he lives and leaves the rest as no worry would make things better, and the fact remains that life is vanity.

My Christian View on Euthanasia

Euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide are entirely opposed to the Christian religion on the basis that it invades God’s territory of life and death. Various ethical problems also are linked to the denial of the euthanasia in any society. I don’t agree with the euthanasia and any assisted suicide since as a Christian we believe in the sanctity of life from the time of conception till the occurrence of the natural death. In my view, George should just wait for a natural death since according to the scripture, “Thou Shalt Not Kill”.  Ultimately, Christians believe that it is only God who gives and takes the life and therefore His will related to such issues prevails over the will of all humanity. The scripture also gave instructions to our forebears and should remain our guidelines as well; that “whoever sheds man’s blood, by man his blood shall be shed for in the image of God has He made man” (Genesis 9:6). Being created by God, we are just stewards of the life, but we do not own it. Hence according to the above scripture, no one is allowed to take away an innocent life.


In closure, both Buddhism and Christianity have different views on the issue of the illness and suffering and the concept of the divine when it comes to the voluntary euthanasia. Buddhists consider an individual as the redeemer of his suffering different from the Christians viewing external God, Christ as the one who rescues humanity from suffering. Christianity understands all things are created by an external God, and according to Christians George should not dictate what happens in his life as he is just a steward and does not own it. Buddhism does not appreciate the presence of God as they believe what exists is spontaneously arising like the way a flower grows organically from the seed given right causes and conditions.







Cheng, F. K. (2017). Buddhist insights into life and death: Overcoming death anxiety. Athens Journal of Social Sciences4(1), 67-87.

Liefbroer, A. I., Olsman, E., Ganzevoort, R. R., & van Etten-Jamaludin, F. S. (2017). Interfaith Spiritual Care: A Systematic Review. Journal of Religion and Health, 1-18.

Lowis, M. J. (2015). Euthanasia, Suicide, and Despair: Can the Bible Help?: Guidance When Faced with Ethical Dilemmas. Wipf and Stock Publishers.

Pesut, B. (2016). There be dragons: effects of unexplored religion on nurses’ competence in spiritual care. Nursing inquiry23(3), 191-199.

Snyder, C. D. (2013). Providing Care at the End of Life: An Examination of Biblical Principles. CedarEthics: A Journal of Critical Thinking in Bioethics13(1), 3.

Wattis, J., Curran, S., & Rogers, M. (2017). What does spirituality mean for patients, practitioners and health care organisations?. CRC Press, Taylor & Francis Group.

Welter, B. (2015). The Sacredness of Human Life: Why an Ancient Biblical Vision Is Key to the World’s Future by David P. Gushee. The National Catholic Bioethics Quarterly15(1), 183-187.

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