Negotiating Questions of Spiritual and Moral Integrity Reflections of a Hospice Chaplain on What it Might Mean to Accompany Patients in Assisted Dying

Main Article Content

Laura Gilmour


This article uses autoethnography and theological reflection to explore how the palliative care chaplain might pastorally and spiritually care for a person requesting death by assisted dying, when that choice is contra to the chaplain’s personal beliefs as to its moral permissibility. In present day Scotland (May 2023) this is a current issue, as debates about the legality of assisted dying loom in view of a proposed parliamentary bill. Reflecting on the Parable of the Good Samaritan and the theme of kenosis, the article concludes that God’s self-emptying, kenotic ‘neighbour’ love offers this chaplain a model of kenotic pastoral care through which they can remain present, whilst maintaining spiritual and moral integrity. The self-emptying of kenotic pastoral care, which includes the setting aside of our own egos, invites and allows room for God in the pastoral encounter and keeps the relationship open for invited dialogue with the patient.

Article Details

Author Biography

Laura Gilmour

Revd Laura Gilmour is an ordained Baptist chaplain working in Strathcarron Hospice in Central Scotland, UK. She previously worked in National Health Service research ethics before moving into Baptist ministry and specialising in palliative care chaplaincy. Her areas of interest include chaplaincy research, death and dying, medical ethics and palliative care.