Judy Roitman, guiding teacher, Kansas Zen Center, 1423 N.Y.:
We’re all dying. Nobody, not even someone on death row, knows when and how they will die. So if preparing for death is something one person should do, it’s something everyone should do.
There are practical things. Taking care of bank accounts, deciding who should look after property, that kind of thing. That’s one way to prepare for death: practical contingency plans. We all should do this because nobody, not even someone on death row, knows when and how they will die.
There’s being clear-eyed about the process. Too many people go through too much pain because they or their loved ones can’t accept that they are, in fact, dying. Hospice can restore life and even, paradoxically, prolong it.
But more important is to completely absorb the fact that we’re going to die. We’ve all known people — maybe you’re one of them — who try to banish death from their consciousness, like a little kid shutting her ears and going “nananana” because she doesn’t want her mother to tell her to clean her room. Hate to give the ending away, but that doesn’t work.
How should you prepare for death? You can’t really prepare for marriage, childbirth, parenting, your first day of kindergarten, your first kid’s first day of kindergarten ... why do you think you can prepare for death? Nothing ever happens quite the way we think it will. Why should death be any different?
You can’t prepare, but you can acknowledge. You can look at death straight on, which means looking at life straight on. It’s like the front and back of your hand — you can’t have one without the other.
— Send email to Judy Roitman at email@example.com.
Barry Watts, director of development, Salvation Army of Lawrence, and former associate/student ministries pastor at Lawrence Heights Christian Church:
Facing the inevitable reality of death, people ask themselves two important questions: What will happen to me and what will happen to my loved ones?
What will happen to me?
In the oldest book of the Bible, Job 14:14 says, “If a man dies, will he live again?” From scholars to theologians, this question has been contemplated. Different faiths, or lack thereof, have their beliefs of the afterlife. What is beyond, or not beyond, physical death? My Christian faith and belief in the Bible’s inspiration and inerrancy, leads me to a strong conviction in life beyond this world. Death is not the end. There are thousands of verses in the Bible clearly stating and describing the continuance of life beyond death. John 3:16, the most recognizable passage of Scripture, reads, “God so loved the world that He gave His One and only Son, that whoever believes in Him will not perish, but have everlasting life.” There is life beyond the grave. The Bible is clear of the possible destinations: heaven or hell. There is only one way to enter into heaven with a holy and perfect God. Jesus Christ is that way. In John 14:6, Jesus emphatically states, “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life. No one comes to the Father, except through Me.”
What will happen to my loved ones?
In making final preparations, we worry and long to help loved ones. What can we do for them? Financial and emotional comfort will not last. There are only two perpetual gifts: peace and hope. Peace knowing their loved one is dwelling eternally in heaven. And the hope that comes through the message of Jesus Christ.
To those preparing for death, “I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in him.” (Romans 15:13)
— Send email to Barry Watts at firstname.lastname@example.org.