A clear distinction is made in the “new” Order for the Care of the Sick (issued by Pope Paul VI in 1972) between those who are seriously ill and those who are dying. Extreme Unction or Last Rites as it used to be called is now more fittingly called the Anointing of the Sick (or Sacrament of the Sick), for the sacrament is to be given to those who are seriously ill or sick, but not to those who are dying. And certainly not to those who are dead.
The effect of the
Sacrament is summarised in the Introduction to the Rite:
“The sacrament provides the sick person with the grace of the Holy Spirit by which the whole man is brought to health, trust in God is encouraged, and strength is given to resist the temptations of the Evil One and anxiety about death. Thus the sick person is able, not only to bear his suffering bravely, but also to fight against it. A return to physical health may even follow the reception of this sacrament if it would be beneficial to the sick person’s salvation.”