November We Remember
November can be a somber month – falling leaves, bare trees, birds departing, colder temperatures and lengthening darkness. It is also the month to remember the dead, All Saints Day, All Souls Day and Remembrance Day.
November 2, 2018 is an All Souls Day that I shall never forget. It was the day that Fr. Earl and I discovered Helen, a beloved parishioner, who had died suddenly in her apartment. We had been unable to contact her all day, and due to her health challenges, we went to her apartment and found her, with her daughter arriving just a few minutes later. It was hard to imagine any force strong enough to render Helen silent and immobile, but she was indeed.
Helen did not want to die. In fact, she refused to even talk about it. But Henri Nouwen says, “Real human grief allows the illusion of immortality to die in us.” So while we acknowledge the mortality of so many loved ones whom we have lost, let us also acknowledge our own mortality.
Countless books, articles, blogs have been written about spiritually preparing for serious illness and death. But I am going to talk about some of the “practical” issues.
We can consider and plan what happens in case of serious or terminal illness, accidents, stroke, heart attack or death. What kind of care do you want? Where do you want to receive that care? Do you want life support? Who do you want to make decisions for you, if you are unable to do so yourself? Have you made your wishes known to your husband, wife, children, supportive friend?
Do you have an advance health care directive? Have you made a will? Have you talked to anyone about what you want when you die? These are questions for adults of all ages to consider, but especially if you are older, have serious health challenges or are caring for a relative or friend who requires care.
Somber, yes ! But by asking these questions and making these plans, it can be an act of charity for your loved ones who are left behind, relieving them of heart wrenching decisions. It can help you to clarify your own wishes and ensure that they are carried out.
This process may also be life – giving, helping you to set priorities as you move forward and appreciate every new day that God gives you.