Guest Author - Rev. Jaclin Meade Scott
War. Earthquake. Tsunami. War.Volcano. Flooding. Fire. War. Accidents. Shootings. War. Nuclear fallout.
And that was just in the last ten days.
Even the most optimistic, the most faithful among us have moments of insecurity. Itís scary. The usual platitudes and clichťs do nothing to quell the gnawing fears.
Except one Ė forewarned is forearmed. So, we step outside of our comfort zone for a solution. We move outside the proverbial box.
If this is to be the end, then the best defense is preparation. This article is about being ready. First, two very important things.
1)THIS IS NOT ABOUT SUICIDE. SUICIDE IS NOT A SOLUTION Ė TO ANYTHING. IF YOU ARE THINKING ABOUT SUICIDE, STOP READING AND CALL SOMEONE NOW. NOW!
2) Being prepared for the last days of your life is actually a gift to anyoneís family, at any time. We should all be doing it, regardless of the condition of the world, our health or age.
Weíre going to talk about mending relationships, your final wishes, and writing your own obituary.
People donít like talking about death. Get over it. Left to their own devices, your family will go overboard, into debt, trying to ďhonorĒ you. This is partially out of social pressure, partly out of guilt. 99.9% of the people in the after death care business are wonderful, ethical folks. But they ARE in business, and trying to keep themselves above water like the rest of us. Leaving directions for your village is very important. At a time when no one is thinking clearly and all are under duress, they donít need to be hunting for clues as to what to put in a memorial service for you, or your burial wishes. Print it all out. Everything. You canít be too detailed. One woman put the earrings she wanted to wear in a marked envelope. Itís a good thing. The favorite earrings they would have picked were to go to someone specific, they found out later.
You have all heard people tell how someone on their death bed refused to let go until a certain member of the family was able to get there. This brings up one of the most important quests to start, today. Since none of us knows when our last day will be, start now to mend any broken fences. This is going to take some time.
Of all the beauty and tradition of Judaism, the High Holy Days are given the most attention. During that period, custom dictates that each person take time to make amends with those on less than good terms. There is no assignation of guilt, rather an attempt to make things better. Wipe the slate clean, and start over with good intentions. Agree to peaceably disagree, in some cases. Or at least let a person know that while you cannot maintain a relationship at this time, you wish them well, and the door is open should things change.
This is the foundation of Christianityís confession and forgiveness, based on its Jewish heritage. But the true meaning and intention has largely been lost. The sacred texts of other world religions also speak to this process.
Itís easy to enjoy the company of those with whom weíre on good terms. Take time now to address your regrets, while you still can. Doing this now prevents regrets from piling up in the future. Itís a good growing edge for all of us, since none of us is perfect. By addressing your regrets, youíll learn to avoid them in the future, and thatís a very good thing.
Please note that the word ďeasyĒ does not appear here. Restoring relationships is a difficult, humbling thing to do. It makes us better humans. Itís a good example and lesson to younger people in our lives. If the younger person is the one youíve offended, doing this could literally save a life.
Yes, making amends is gut wrenching, uncomfortable, difficult, scary and embarrassing.Itís priceless. A good first task would be to make a list. Who are the people with whom you need to make amends? If you write it down, it wonít be constantly on your mind. A list will help insure you donít miss anyone. You will leave your friends and family with few regrets where you are concerned.
Decide what you want done with your earthly remains. There are so many options. You need to be open minded, practical, and willing to do some homework ahead of time. This is absolutely crucial. You wonít have time to do the necessary foot- and paper-work once death has occurred. Even if there is no death pending in your family, having all the info you need wonít hurt. And, as is our Communityís practice, sharing the info with others can save someone a lot of pain. So look into these options, and prepare to be a blessing.
And yes, write your own obituary. It really isnít morbid if you think about it. This is your last word. If you are the creative type, or you donít have a lot of people that know your life story, you must do it yourself. Get someone to help you. Often people hear a personís obit and remark that the facts of that personís life were interesting, but unknown. What a loss. Include vital statistics Ė date and place of birth, school, etc. Include family members. Because people move around so much today, include geographical references. The future genealogists will bless you for it. There is no reason you canít be funny, poetic, musical. Go for it. Left to others, who will have little time, your obit wonít be much more than a short serving of facts.
Youíll be amazed at the inner peace all this can bring. Combine this with prayer as you read all those news reports, and you could move closer to