… Hey, guess what. You’re going to die. I’m going to die. Everybody dies. And yet so many of us go on about our lives acting as if death is something that happens to other people.
Maybe that’s why so many of us are unprepared for death when it inevitably comes. As Catholics, though, we should embrace death, prepare for it, and face it head on.
With the passing of my Abuela a few things come to mind.
Never assume your family is going to know or understand the sacraments and traditions associated with your religion. Hey converts, I am especially talking to you.
Make your religious wishes specifically know. Don’t just focus on wills for your personal property and possession. All that stuff is of this world anyway. You need to be worried about making sacramental arrangements for the next life.
Ask yourself, what happens if you can’t communicate due to advanced illness, age, some debilitating accident, or coma? If you are the only practicing Catholic in your family will they know to call a priest right away and request Last Rites? Will they make sure you have a Catholic funeral and burial? And lastly, will they pray for your soul once you’ve died?
All these things need to be discussed before it’s too late. They need to be planned with the help of your parish priest, carefully detailed and written down, and finally communicated with your immediate family.
I ran across this article while googling “preparing for a happy death”, hoping to find a checklist or something that I could use.
Priests need to preach the Church’s teachings on end-of-life issues more frequently to better spiritually prepare parishioners for the inevitable, Fr. Kevin Belgrave believes.
“The solution to the vast majority of problems and challenges that arise at the end of life begins long before the moment of death arises,” said Belgrave, who recently returned from Rome where he completed his dissertation on end-of-life bio-ethics, specifically palliative sedation.
“If you attempt to deal with end-of-life issues only at the moment when death is on our door you have a person who has in no way been prepared for that moment.”
Belgrave said that the parishioner who is spiritually unprepared for death is becoming the norm. A “despiritualized” culture has changed how parishioners talk about death if they’re talking about it at all, he said.
“Even in our own parents’ generation there was so many more religious resources that were part of the air of the culture that people drew on when they were dying,” he said. “People understood that spiritual preparation for death was so important. Now we live in a very despiritualized world where people are so much more concerned about their physical well-being (rather) than their spiritual well-being.”
Fr. Belgrave further discusses how being prepared takes away some of the fear associated with death and helps us die more at peace.
So what does a proper Catholic funeral look like? What does it entail? Take a moment to look this over, print it out, and make an appointment to talk with your priest. There’s some really good information here, stuff that never even occurred to me.
And because I am uber paranoid that when I die no one will pray for me, there’s perpetual spiritual enrollments for the dead. Why not go ahead and make arrangements to have a family member enroll after you die.
Lastly, if you are considering cremation, please please please read this. Don’t just leave those ashes out in a pretty vase on the fireplace mantle. They are cremated remains that must also be buried or kept in a crypt and treated with the same dignity you’d treat a body.
The more you know, right? And a happy death to you all.