Today my husband and I had one of those “difficult” conversations. In the midst of the coronavirus pandemic affecting the globe and hearing about thousands of people dying, I insisted that we review our Wills and other final documents. While there is some comfort in knowing we made certain arrangements a dozen years and five house moves ago, clearly it’s time for an update.
The subject of our eventual death need not be one we avoid nor approach with overwhelming emotion. The fact is we are all going to die at some point. It’s just a matter of when and how. We may not have control over either of those decisions, but we can make known to family, friends, or an attorney our wishes about certain things being done upon our exit from this life. It is the responsibility of each individual to determine his/her final wishes in the last chapter of one’s life story.
Eckhart Tolle said, “Life has no opposite. The opposite of death is birth. Life is eternal.”
Let me make something clear: I love my life. I LOVE my life! It is better now than it’s ever been. While certainly there are some experiences I would never have consciously chosen for myself, I’m grateful every day for the journey that brought me to this place and time.
And I take care of myself in a way that supports my body for a long experience on this planet. I still have much to do and be before I make my transition from this plane to whatever is beyond this earthly existence. Any fear of death I carried into adulthood continues to be replaced by decades of studies in world religions, death traditions, rituals, beliefs, and spiritual growth. And, yes, I do believe the soul or essence of who we are continues in another realm or dimension. It’s a mystery and a future adventure.
Meanwhile, as we practice social distancing, personal retreats, or self-quarantines, and follow the guidelines to keep one another healthy and safe, I believe it is also important to be practical, responsible, for any unforeseen (but possible) situations… death being one of them. As the number of deaths from this virus increase each day, it can be difficult to consider we could become part of those statistics. However, currently we’re part of the living and that provides us with an opportunity to be responsible adults.
Ernest Holmes, founder of Religious Science, wrote in the Science of Mind textbook in the chapter on Immortality some of my favorite lines of this philosophy: “And so we prepare not to die, but to live. The thought of death should slip from our consciousness altogether; and when this great event of the soul takes place, it should be beautiful, sublime . . . a glorious experience. As the eagle, freed from its cage, soars to its native heights, so the soul, freed from the home of heavy flesh, will rise and return unto its Father’s house, naked and unafraid.”
For me, preparing “not to die, but to live…” means that I take care of those tasks, documents, directions, expenses, etc. that are mine to do. This includes my funeral arrangements, cremation, designation or distribution of personal items, and so forth. No one can guess what I have in mind unless I write it down and offer some directions. I believe my wishes will be honored by those who I’ve entrusted with such requests. And, the thing is, once everything I need to clarify and list and label is recorded and shared appropriately, I can focus on Life and all it still offers.
A few years before my father died, he shared with me certain things he wanted to have done after he was gone. His list was not a long one. Unfortunately, he didn’t write down what he had shared with me. Then another family member took control of his life and finances in those final months. While more than two years have passed since he made his transition, I intend to honor him and his verbal requests as best I can, and in more ways than he originally suggested.
The 2017 experience with my father’s death and his unfulfilled final requests inspired me to create a “Funeral Planning Workbook.” It has since been published (on Amazon) and used by a growing audience of folks, like me, who are willing to address their eventual death and consider what final arrangements are desired. In so doing, we are being accountable to ourselves by taking care of tasks NOW so that our families won’t need to be burdened with them later.
Whether you choose to purchase and utilize such a planning tool or start handwriting your list on a notepad, I encourage you… in these days of isolation, reflection, self-care, and with a focus on your health and longevity… give some thought and direction to what you can do to ease the burdens of those you will leave behind. You might discover ways to simplify life even further.
As we’ve seen on the news or in social media, this virus doesn’t care about your age, gender, social or economic status, race, profession, or where you live. So if you’re reading this, you still have time to complete a very important life task… and let someone (or two) know where to find your final documents and instructions. Research online. Download templates to get started. Consult with legal professionals. File whatever forms are necessary by mail or email. And once it’s done, having considered the worst that could happen, you will have a better appreciation for this awesome experience called Life and can joyfully look forward to the best it has in store for you.
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