The Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick is one of the more misunderstood sacraments. Some of this comes from other names it is known by, like Extreme Unction and the Last Anointing. This sacrament is better described as focusing on life, health, and well-being.
Clearly recognizing that human frailty is a part of the reality of life, our loving God is with us through this sacrament to strengthen us when our minds or bodies grow weak. Thus, a person facing a significant surgery is encouraged to avail themselves of this sacrament (cf. CCC 1515), as well as the aged or seriously ill (cf. CCC 1513).
The bishops at Vatican II were realistic in recognizing human illness and frailty. If death should be the result of the illness, God and his Church assist the journey into new life by offering the Eucharist as Viaticum. Just as the Eucharist nourished us throughout life, so it is nourishment for our travels into new life.
This sacrament, then, is not to be viewed as the kiss of death, but one of healing and life.
If you are facing a significant surgery or the end of life, contact the pastor to arrange time for this sacrament or with questions.