"Dying," in the words of Küng, "means the physico-psychological events immediately preceding death, which are irrevocably halted with the advent of death. Dying then is the way, death the 'destination'."1 Death as destination, whether intermediate or final, and dying as way have been accepted by societies and accommodated by religious traditions throughout history, but not always with the equanimity and understanding one might expect of an intelligent species. Death, of course, has as its corollary in the human psyche a drive towards hope, and in many ways the story of religious belief is the story of the search for balance between death and hope. An accurate and stable balance between the need to hope and the reality of death has never been achieved for long in the history of humanity; more often than not the pendulum seems to swing wildly from one extreme to the other, occasionally pausing somewhere in the middle.
". . . The ultimate reality that looms up for everybody, inexorably, is the dark void of death. Nonetheless all human life, even that of men who do not believe in an afterlife, and reduce hope theoretically to dread, is penetrated by the notion of progress and hope."2 Such a notion seems to have predominated in Western thought during the middle decades of this century, as the pendulum has swung well into hope and away from the reality of death. Science and medicine have made dying less painful and death less an unexpected end to youth or middle age. Segregated homes for "senior citizens," bloodlessly sterile hospital wards, "bereavement counselors" with____________________