Preparing to Die . . . The Final Season

Preparing to Die…  The Final Season

My friend, Elinor is a deep thinker.  She doesn’t mind admitting she hit the big “7-0” last year, which is a milestone. Out of the blue one day she said to me: “I just had a bolt of realization! I am preparing to die!!”  Sounds pretty morbid, right?

But being in the funeral business, we are surrounded with death and dying and helping those who are grieving.  When we can, we encourage people to pre-pay and pre-plan their funeral to save themselves money and extra stress when the time comes.  This is all good and something we strongly believe in –

but no, that is not where this blog is going.

What Elinor said got me to thinking about the seasons of most of our lives.

First, we are children.  We are gaining knowledge rapidly from an educational standpoint.  We are learning how to relate in our small circle of family and close friends.  We branch out to preschool, through high school to higher learning, and continue our growth and development.  We make lots of stupid mistakes during this phase, but we aren’t aware of too many of them.

Next comes career and creating a family.  We work hard to accumulate worldly goods and start building a career.   We save for college for our children and weddings and hopefully set aside funds towards retirement.  We take vacations and travel a little.  We buy stuff we don’t need and are usually wasteful.  We develop more of our character during this time, because we also have to impart it to our children.  We make more stupid mistakes, but now we are aware of them.

After that comes the season of the empty nest, the grandchildren phase, and all the fun that brings.  If one is fortunate, self-evaluation and life evaluation are stronger in this phase.  We are becoming quite comfortable with who we are.   We really would like to tell people what we have learned from our mistakes, but usually no one listens.

This brings us to the last season:  Preparing to die!

Here are some components I want to consider . . .

  • Financial:  I will want to be sure that my will or trust and accounts have been evaluated and will stand scrutiny when I am no longer here to defend or change them.  My vested powers are how I want them.
  • Stuff:  I want to be sure that I give away the important things to those I intend them for.  I want to see the smiles while I am still here.   I want the pictures marked so no one has to say “Who is that? Or, “How are we related?” I want to divest myself of the unimportant so that others won’t have to handle it when I am gone.
  • Bucket List:  My bucket list will contain the places I have not visited that I still yearn to see.  But what about overcoming some of my remaining fears?  What about the unread books, unheard music, giving of myself in service to others once the working years are completed? As I check some off, I have no doubt I will add more.
  • Relationships:  I will want to be sure, that inasmuch as possible I mend any broken relationships.  I want to contemplate everyone in my close immediate world.  If I have knowingly hurt anyone, I will want to be quick to ask for forgiveness.  I will want to be sure those I love now exactly how I feel and nothing is left unsaid or undone.

I will say “I love you” a lot.

  • Health:  I will want to pay the closest attention I ever have to what I eat, how I rest, my exercise regimen, good mental health and a positive attitude, taking care to fix what’s broken when I can.
  • Emotional:  The final phase of life will most certainly include some health issues I can’t fix.  It will include saying good-bye to friends and relatives who die before me.  I need to be able to face these things courageously.  I will need to be realistic about possible “sudden fears” of not knowing how to handle something in a weakened physical state or without those I have trusted and leaned on for years. I will need to stick together with my remaining friends and family and “be there” for each other.  I will need to come to a place of internal peace with my circumstances, regardless… period!
  • Spiritual:  The most important of all.  For me, personally, I need to know my relationship with God is in good standing and that things are fully settled according to my faith in Jesus Christ.

Finally, naturally being timid in certain areas, I would like to know that I can actually die bravely and with the certain knowledge that as I walk through “my own valley of the shadow of death”, I won’t fear the shadows.  You know, shadows are only present when there is a light source. I shall hopefully be focusing on My Light, not the shadow.  My Maker is pure light and if He is walking me across the valley, His light will always cast a shadow.

Until that day comes, I plan to be busy doing whatever the days holds.  I love the poem “Because I could not stop for Death” by Emily Dickenson:

“Because I could not stop for death..

He kindly stopped for me..

The Carriage held but just Ourselves..

And Immortality… “ Click the link to read it all.

A little serious?  Sure.  Morbid?  Nah, I don’t think so.  It is a reality that faces each of us and we do have to accomplish what the seasons set forth.  From birth to death, it is what it is.

What season are you in?  Are you making the most of it?  Each season is the building block for the next. Will you end up having the courage it takes for the final season?

Molly Keating
Molly Keating
Molly grew up in and around funeral homes her entire life. In 2009 she began working for O'Connor Mortuary and found a bridge between her passion for writing and her interest in grief and bereavement. In 2016 she earned Certification in the field of Thanatology, the study of Death, Dying and Bereavement. She is honored to be able to write about these taboo topics with knowledge, compassion, and a unique perspective.

38 Comments

  1. Joan Petrime says:

    Anne, that was a moving blog. We know that our life is already planned by the BIG MAN , Jesus Christ!!! Let all hope that we live to our full potential and that along the way we can become a loving spouse, love and praise our children and grandchildren and if we are lucky enough great-grandchilren. May we turn out to be helpful, caring, and compassionate enough to care for our friends and other unfortunate people. Let’s hope that the Lord will always guide us to do what is right in all circumstances!!!

    • Anne Collins says:

      Joan
      Living to our full potential…that is it in a nutshell. Just when we think we can coast a little, something comes along to stretch us a little more, doesn’t it? I see so much of what you wrote in your life every day. Helpful, caring, compassionate and I would add thoughtful. Thank you for your friendship.

      And thanks for taking time to comment.
      Love, Anne

  2. Lori says:

    Anne,
    After spending the last ten days tending to my grandmother, your post definitely hits home.
    The part that resonates most is mending broken relationships. At times, my grandmother and I have not spoken at all for weeks at a time. There were periods where I anticipated she could die with us not speaking.
    Instead God has given us the gift of reconciliation. I have seen how much she needs me and she has seen that I am there for her. Even though she may not remember the next day I was there, she feels my presence when I am with her.
    You and Elinor are such incredible role models to me. I can only hope to enter my next season with as much grace and love as the two of you.
    Love you!!
    Lori

    • Anne Collins says:

      Lori
      Thank you.
      You have such a special heart for people. I have no doubt that you will do well with the next season. My thoughts are with you and grandma as you are there for her. I am so thankful you and she have had the time of mending. We never know how we will be, should we live to 98. The mind can play tricks on us and make us think things that aren’t reality at any age. I can only imagine how it might be magnified in the 90’s when we are alone more with no strength to get our angst out physically so we take it out on those we love. Hours alone to sit and mentally build things up. Ugghh! Love you, Anne

  3. Shayna Mallik says:

    Hi Anne,
    Wow, thank you again for a great post! The season I am entering into is moving out of my parents house and getting an apartment with my boyfriend. It is definitely a completely new season for me, as I have never lived outside of my parents home and the home I grew up in. I am excited for the next chapter in my life and it is nice that we are moving to a place near our families. We move at the end of October and we both realize initially it will be different, mainly for me. But I am lucky I found someone to be by my side thru my transition and who will always be there thru my life. Now my parents will finally be entering the season of the empty nest. Once I move out their children will be grown and out of the house. I know and see this is going to be hard on them, due to the fact that I am the last kid to leave. My mom is excited and loves Brad and can’t wait for us to start this chapter, my dad on the other hand is more questioning the decision and making sure it is what we both want, but in the end he is also happy for me. Thank you again for sharing you post, it is amazing how the season’s of our lives come and go. Love ya!

    Shayna

    • Anne says:

      Shayna
      Thank so much for your comments. You are so young and really just past childhood and into the next stage of career and family. All of it is ahead of you. That is an exciting place to be. There will certainly be ups and downs, successes and failures, mistakes and triumphs. I wish you well as you make the journey from where you are to where I am (age-wise). Hugs, Anne

  4. C.L.(Chuck)Troupe says:

    I’m not sure about which “season” I’m in. Connie and I are well past the Empty Nest season, and the spiritual part was settled a long time ago. All but a very few of the people that I love the most have already passed onto that eternal season where I am waiting and ready to go. If I can express it as a “stage” rather than a season, maybe I could say that I am in what I am thinking of as the, “…my-one-way-ticket-is-bought-and-paid-for-and-my-bags-are-packed-and-I’m-just-waiting-for-my-ride…” stage.
    There is no way I have a “death wish” and there is no need for anyone to be concerned about me jumping off a bridge, or drinking a hemlock cocktail. I’m just saying that with the exception of my wife, my grandson and my best two friends in this world, my desire to be “over there” is growing greater than my desire to remain over here.

    • Anne says:

      Chuck
      I love the way you expressed the stage you are in. You have a good attitude about the stage you are in because of the confidence you have in the future. I know you well enough to know you totally mean it. One thing is for sure. You’ll be singing here til you croak and you will be singing there for eternity! Family and friends are the pull that keeps us here as long as we can. They need us and we need them. Thanks so much for taking time to post.

  5. Kari Leslie says:

    Annie,
    Once again you have imparted such wisdom and peace to me. Thank you for giving us all a glimpse of you’re inner most thoughts, dreams, and desires. You have so much to share, I just want to gobble it all up!!

    Love you my friend,
    kari

    • Anne says:

      Kari
      Thanks for your comments. It sounds like you are handling your season so well with moves, changes, both adult children and a child at home. Love you, too! Annie

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