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
Hello! I'm Molly and I run & manage the Blog here at O'Connor. I grew up in a mortuary with a mortician for a father who's deep respect for the profession inspired me to give working at a mortuary a try. Work at O'Connor has brought together two of my deep passions, writing & grief awareness. In 2016 I earned Certification in the field of Thanatology, the study of Death, Dying and Bereavement. I am honored to be able to speak on these taboo topics with knowledge, compassion, and a unique perspective. I want to sincerely thank you for following & reading the blog, I hope that this is a healing place for you.

38 Comments

  1. Jeannette Avellan says:

    Anne,
    Your message was profound and a very good perspective of life here on earth. We live life as we think it is best but as people we never really stop learning and our attitude makes a huge difference.

    Every day is a gift from God I think and it does not matter what season of life we are in. True we do like nice things while we are here but the material possesions are only temporary and the best is yet to come!! I always think it is best to tell your family that you love them, as you say in your blog too, because we really do not know when our Creator will call us and it is better to tell your loved ones to their face than in front of a tomb when it is too late!

    • Anne says:

      Jeannette
      Thank you so much for taking time to read my post and comment. I do hope you might find my future posts worth your time as well. I agree with you. I know I never stop learning, because my attitude is that I can learn something new from each day, each friend, each encounter. You and I both appreciate nice and beautiful things. They are there in this world to enjoy, and yet the most important are the relationships. The “I love you’s” and the hugs. I will see you soon! Hugs, Anne

  2. Hi Anne –

    The season I am in is new parent land! I have been navigating through this mapless journey for the last year plus. I have most all my affairs in order, most! I am ready for my day, not that I want to go anytime soon, yet I do know that if my number comes up early my wife and son are covered. I love this season, everyday is a new adventure with a little one in my life. I wish I could freeze this moment and never move forward, yet time will not stop. I am looking forward to the next chapters in our life as parents. I am thankful for the deep insights you have and share! XO

    • Anne says:

      Neil,
      And a wonderful parent you are. Nothing comes before your concern for your son and that is how it should be. Believe me, I don’t care how many books they write. The journey with our children is mapless. Loved the way you put that. I have a feeling you are taking full advantage of this season, which will surely put you on solid ground for the next and the next. XXOO

  3. Fred says:

    Anne, Great post. Thanks for your insightful message. I’m at a point, as in the movie “Fried Green Tomatos”, where Jessica Tandy says she’s “at the jumping off place”. Me too. I look at it as the last great adventure of life. To see the angels, and my Lord Jesus Christ. I’m ready. Fred

    • Anne says:

      Oh Fred, how wonderful to have you take time to read my blog. Thank you! I am getting close to the jumping off place myself. Too bad the Father wouldn’t let you take one of your aircraft up. I know you would make a safe landing on the aircraft carrier called Heaven. Just don’t let the wings crease the beautiful gates of Pearl! It’s a soft stone, you know! Appreciated your post. Anne

  4. Molly says:

    Anne,
    I love this post because truly, the last part we can & should try to apply to our lives no matter what season we are in. While I certainly haven’t learned (& never will finish learning) all the lessons God has in store for me, I can take the advice you give on how to properly prepare for the end of life and begin applying those values now. Especially the “saying I love you more” part. I want to practice saying & exhibiting that more in my actions & attitude.

    Thank you for writing such an inspiring, challenging, and freedom giving post – I say freedom because the idea of planning this kind of thing takes away some of the fear of it sneaking up. I love your perspective, thank you!

    • Anne says:

      Molly
      I so enjoyed writing this post because it really made me think. When I actually saw it in print, with the picture you chose, I got misty and was so glad I took on the subject. I need to re-read it for myself often, I think. And yes, I find myself saying “I love you” more than I did before. Thank you for your comments and thank you for the picture. It was perfect!

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