Last week my twin brother died due to diabetic complications. When EMT arrived at his home his blood sugar level was over 1,800. In spite of heroic effort, the EMT medics could not save him nor could they save me and my family from the post-trauma of his death.
Because his death was sudden we did not have time to prepare so I posed the question: How do you prepare for death?
Preparation Step 1: LIVE! Live every day with gratitude and gusto. Make every sunrise and sunset count. I am reminded of the poem The Dash written by Linda Ellis where she asks us to remember that the dash which separates your birth – and your death “that this special dash might only last a little while” encourages us to live a full and fulling life right now in the present.
Preparation Step 2: CELEBRATE! Don’t wait for a day marker on the calendar to celebrate with someone you love – stop the frenzy and do it now. Have the courage and forethought to say that you love and show that love today. Celebrate the fun, glamor, tenderness, and health that you have right now.
Preparation Step 3: LEGACY (have one)! You are on earth, we all are here, for a purpose and that purpose, whether we accept it or not, informs our legacy. We are more than a “meat suit” as said by James Arthur Ray of the movie The Secret. A part of a legacy is an identification of who you are, what contributions you have made as a human spirit, and the totality of the relationship you have had with life.
Make a legacy for yourself that transcends money. But, while we are on the subject of money – put your financial house in order. Make a will, establish a trust if you have sufficient financial assets, and outline your burial requests. Doing this as a part of your legacy is a comfort after death. However, when you take your breathing time here on earth as a gift of life you can build a goodwill legacy of service, kindness, empathy, rich care and agape faith that transcends the murmur of space and time.
Preparation Step 4: GRIEVE! There are four common stages of grief: shock and denial, pain, anger and eventual acceptance. Of course there are gradients of emotions in play that erupt in between these four stages but the primary grief responses allow you to prepare your life after the death of someone in your relationship circle – family, friend, colleague, or other. Make death, in your grieving process, a messenger of joy.
Grieve your way to life. Learn the lessons intended from the past relationship with the now deceased and pledge to continue their legacy while building your own living legacy one that makes a mark on this earth for the good of humanity that you are alive.
My post-grief response, just one of them, is to pray for the progress of his soul each and every day and to perform acts of service in his behalf. Another active grief response for me is to become a local spokesperson for the American Diabetes Association and an advocate to talk about depression and having a life. A last active step that I will share with you is to take care of my body and heath by treating it as a throne of my inner temple and urge those in close contact with me to do the same.
Preparing for death involves living, caring, and leaving a legacy.
May the time before and after the -dash- be long.