In thinking about and preparing for the end of life, spiritual wholeness as well as brokenness are major considerations which impact how one lives and one dies. Following is a discussion of how to assess these issues. The language of sin, repentance and reconciliation is similar to the language of diagnosis of illness, decision to apply therapy, and healing. That is no mistake, as healing is a word also related to holiness and wholeness, and there are many kinds of healing. Here is a list of possibilities:
- There may be great sorrows and great sin that you want to talk about with a priest.
- There maybe one or more family members that you need to talk to or write to for the sake of seeking forgiveness and reconciliation.
- The loss of certain relationships you have right now, where you feel their great need for you or dependency on you need addressed.
Estranged family members, friends, or business partners, colleagues, or others that were important at one time to you may benefit from contact. As you approach the end of your earthly life, some questions may arise which cause unnecessary doubt and suffering. We talk about the body as a husk, like the outside of a seed or the peel of the apple, out of which new life comes in a new and different form. The changes after death are not relevant to eternal life. Therefore, no matter the disposition of your body (embalming, cremation, dismemberment or incompleteness), God knows you in your fullest being. Nothing will be missing when you come to into God’s presence. You can have your body cremated and scatter it to the winds, for God will not lose any part of you. Sometimes what your family thinks is more important than what you believe. At the end, you may find impediments relating to your life in which guilt attaches to you and won’t let go.
There is a sacrament and a process to address this in the Book of Common Prayer: the Sacrament of Reconciliation. When the souls seems to focus on something that gets in the way of surrender to God, then the work of God is invoked, to defeat all the illness, sin and sadness, to restore us to wholeness and holiness. If you fear too much that you will forget something you did wrong, or that there’s going to be a last minute “gotcha” on the part of God, seek a competent priest or person to hear your confession and discuss with you ways to let go and let God.
Spiritual healing is ultimately and finally God’s work, and your faith and trust will serve you in the last. If your family, or friends, or loved ones of any kind are unusually concerned about your passing and your spiritual health, you may find you are the only one who can assure them that you will be safe and sound in God’s hands. Your St. Luke’s Episcopal Church ~ San Lucas Iglesia Episcopal © Page 2 guidance in the last, your “living out loud,” may be the comfort and consolation that you can give as a gift to those who love you.
Death is the end of a stage, not the end of all things: it is the door into life to come.