Ten Preparations for Dying Well

The Crucifixion by Diego Velazquez, 1632.Make the preparations your funeral years before it arrives. Do you have any preferences concerning your headstone and gravesite, Mass  readings and hymns, funeral home and parish? Making these details known to your family members in advance will ensure your wishes are met and spare them later stress in a difficult time.

Talk about your future passing with your loved ones. They otherwise may be too afraid to raise the topic of death. Yet such conversations can be an opportunity for faith-sharing, a cause of greater peace of mind for you, and a consolation to them down the road.

Deathbed conversions do happen, but rarely. Most people die as they have made a habit of living. Do not put off your personal conversion.

Practice daily prayer, at least weekly communion, regular (even monthly) confession, and constant Christian virtue.

Keep in mind the ancient Latin phrase Memento mori: “Remember that you have to die.” And heed, also, the wisdom of Sirach 7:36: “In all you do, remember the end of your life, and then you will never sin.”

Tell the most important people in your life the most important phrases in life: “I’m sorry,” “Please,” “Thank you,” and “I love you.” Say these things to friends, family, and God often.

Prepare an “advanced directive” and designate a trusted person as your “medical power of attorney” in case you become incapable of making your own health care decisions. (Otherwise you could be deprived of the ordinary care Catholic medical ethics require; for example, by being deprived of nutrition and hydration.) These legal documents can be freely downloaded and completed from Pro-Life Wisconsin.

Receive the Sacrament of Anointing in light of serious illness or surgery (i.e., general anesthetic.) As the Catholic Catechism says, “The anointing of the sick is not a sacrament for those only who are at the point of death. Hence, as soon as anyone of the faithful begins to be in danger of death from sickness or old age, the fitting time for him to receive this sacrament has certainly already arrived.”

Pray for help from the patron saint of a happy death, St. Joseph, who likely died with Jesus and Mary with him at his bedside.

Explore an excellent website created by the Roman Catholic Church of England and Wales: ArtOfDyingWell.org.

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