Always Well Within

Calm Your Mind, Ease Your Heart, Embrace Your Inner Wisdom

Are You Ready for Death to Arrive?

Autumn Leaves

Although we might prefer to ignore it, death is real and, often, it comes without warning.  It doesn’t matter your age, wealth, or health status.  You might be alive with this breath, and gone with the next. Or, you might suddenly be diagnosed with what is certain to be a protracted illness that ends in death.

Naturally, we all want to have a peaceful death, experience the least suffering possible in those final moments, and leave this earth with no regrets.  So doesn’t it makes sense to accept the inevitability of death, and prepare for it now by taking charge of your mind and affairs?

Take these four steps in the present so you will be able to meet death with greater ease.

Cultivate an Aware and Calm Mind

Anything can pop up in the mind, and it will due to our habitual ways of seeing, thinking and being in the world.  But that doesn’t mean you have to be a slave to your thoughts, emotions, and sensations.  Freedom lies in realizing these are just temporary affairs, not the innermost you.

If you take a a moment to observe your mind, you’ll find none of these thoughts or emotions stick around for any length of time. But, isn’t there an ever-present awareness always there with you?

Train your mind to let all the thoughts and emotions slide right by. Align instead with this pure awareness, the real you.  As you do, troubles will gradually melt away.  It’s not that difficulties will never arise, but you’ll see them in a whole new way.

Cherish Your Relationships

As the door to this life begins to close, all your unfinished business may suddenly feel very immediate.

Don’t die with regrets!  Forgive those tired, old grudges.  Refuse to let a day go by without expressing your love and gratitude to all those you meet.  Share your love and kindness equally with your closest friends, and everyone else you happen to encounter as you proceed throughout your day

Focus on the Real Priorities

Are you lost in the details, forgetting what’s really important in life?  What’s your true purpose, anyway?  Take some time to find out. Then pour all your energy into what really counts.

Take Care of Your Practical Affairs

If you kicked off this moment would you leave a mess for your family or friends to clean up?  Do you have:

  • A living will and other advance directives in place?
  • The usual will?
  • Your financial and business information clearly organized and accessible?
  • So many possessions it will be a pain in the neck for your family or friends to clear them out?

If you want to have a peaceful death, the time to get started is now!

Dare I ask, are you ready for death to arrive?  What do you need to clean up?

I’m so glad you’re here! If you liked this article, please consider subscribing for free updates by email.  If you can take a moment to share this post on social media, I would be very grateful.  With love, Sandra

 

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16 Comments

  1. Thanks, Sandra. It’s always good to get this wake up call. Even though I’m fine today, I know I don’t know what’s around the corner. I want to get a new WILL written, although the old one would work. Guess there’s no time like the present.
    Love, Mimi

    • You’re welcome, Mimi! It’s really a wake up call for myself that I am so happy to share with others. All the best with getting your new will done. I agree, there’s not time like the present!

  2. What a great reminder to us all. In my working life, I am a hospice social worker and am continually surprised at the amount of people who live their lives ignoring their own mortality. One of the best legacies we can leave our families is a detailed living will. What a gift to our loved ones to know they honored our end of life wishes instead of spending a lifetime wondering or even wallowing in guilt of whether they did “the right thing”. I plan to compete my own advance directives soon and will be using the “Five Wishes” living will template as I find it the most comprehensive yet easy to complete version. Again, thank you for your post.

    • Hi Kaylin,

      It probably feels like life seems so immediate and death seems so far away and so it can be quite easy to ignore our own mortality. It’s interesting how often you observe this in end-of-life your work. Thanks for the tip about “Five Wishes.” I’ve heard about this and would like to check it out. You’re very welcome. Taking care of the practical affairs related to dying is one way we can live in more peace now. Thanks for your beautiful photo essays too!

  3. Funny you should be writing about this, because I just got back from a week-long trip to visit my father and get all of his affairs straightened out. He’s been having a lot of heart problems lately, so it just seemed like a good idea.

    What we did was to set up some very simple transfer-on-death orders, which are easy and inexpensive, and will allow all of his goods and property to avoid probate and transfer directly to the executor upon his death. We also prearranged and prepaid mortuary services, which was surprisingly simple as well. I do recommend doing all of this in advance if possible, as it does result in much greater peace of mind.

  4. Hi Jennifer,

    I’m sorry your father is troubled by heart problems. This is a good indicator that it’s time to take care although he may continue to live for many years.

    Thanks for sharing all the steps you’ve taken. I’m sure they will help others who read the post and the comments. I’m glad you too feel that making arrangements for our death brings peace of mind when it’s taken care of ahead of time.

  5. Hi Sandra….We all wish for a peaceful death and after reading this, my thoughts go back to my mother who has been saying she wants to go now….though in good health, she wants to leave this world without any real old age care which she thinks we might have to give!

    I am glad and lucky that I have hardly any concrete wishes left…so I think I am well prepared to meet the unforeseen! Thanks for a self shaking post!!

    • Dear Balroop,

      I hope the transition, whenever it comes, works about peacefully for your mother and you.

      I think this is really the place to be, not to have too many concrete wishes! Of course, we all want to share our goodness in life, but that’s a little different than have strong hopes and wants. Thanks for your thoughts.

  6. Sandra, I haven’t thought much about death at all. But I have tried to make the most of each day and in away live like everyday could be my last day 🙂 I think if I kept death more at the forefront, I would change perspective on manythings. Small things won’t matter so much. Being right won’t be a big deal. Materials and luxury would not matter at all.

    I think more reflections on death will lead us to reflections on our true life priorities as you point out. We will pursue what really matters and allow everything else to fall to the wayside.

  7. Beautifully said, Vishnu! If you are already living each day as though it could be your last, I think you’ve embraced so much of what the truth of impermanence can bring to us! But, yes, maybe there are small bits more and I love how your outline them here! Thank you.

  8. What a great article. We try so hard to avoid death, to avoid even thinking about death. One year my word of the year was “Prepare” and I had the sense that I should prepare for death. It wasn’t like a premonition, and I didn’t think that I was necessarily going to die soon. What it meant to me was that I should make my peace with death, and live in such a way that if indeed this was my last day on earth, I would be content.

    I hope you will write more about this. If we made friends with death, then we could live our lives without fear.

    • Galen,

      I think this is such a profound insight and very true: “If we make friends with death, then we could live our lives without fear.” It seems like you came away with so much from your year with the word “prepare” and that you would actually be an excellent guide in this arena!

  9. Hi Sandra,

    Just after recently attending the funeral of a long-time friend and preparing for a trip, I made a promise to resume making concrete plans for my last days and death when I returned. Working through the grieving process is hard enough without the survivors having to make loads of decisions about which they are uncertain.

    When my mom died at age 92 she left such clear instructions and prepaid for her entire funeral that all I had to do was order flowers. She had even planned her program, down to designating who would sing at her funeral; unfortunately many of her friends had preceded her in death so I had to modify the program slightly.

    Thank you so much for bringing preparation for death to the forefront. I completed an advance directive for myself years ago, but will revisit it. Kaylin, thanks for introducing me to the Five Wishes template.

    As for what remains to be done, I’ve stepped up my plan to visit all of the continents (except Antarctica) at least once in my lifetime. I hope to visit the remaining two by the end of next year. Little by little I’ve given away items that I realize my kids won’t want (like my teapot collection) so that those items will go to people who care about them. I still have much to give away or discard, but I’ve made a start.

    I can’t say I’m ready for death to arrive yet, but the more preparations I have completed by that day, the happier I’ll be.

    • You’ve done so much, Flora. You are really way ahead of most of us! Your mother is the perfect inspiration. What care she expressed by planning out so much of the details so others wouldn’t be overwhelmed with so much in their grief.

      This is an exciting agenda you have to visit all the continents. I’ve always had an attraction to Antarctica simply due to the vast sense of space, but I don’t think I would like the cold. I hope all your wishes come true, and I appreciate the thoughtful care you are putting into the end of your life.

  10. To tell the truth, I don’t think anyone can be ready for death. After all, even for those of us who have experienced it, if only for a few minutes, can’t be sure it will be the same the next time around. I don’t think anyone can really prepare for it either. How can you prepare for the feels of the ones who are left behind to keep on struggling through life.

    Mortality is so hard to accept, not only for oneself, but also in the ones we love.

  11. Glynis,

    Thanks for sharing your honest perspective. For most of us, I don’t think it’s easy to accept our mortality. In my spiritual tradition, there’s considerable training on making peace with death. And, I know for myself that I feel far more peaceful about it than I did a few years ago. There are specific descriptions about what the process of dying is like. But, I think you are right. We bring all our hopes and fears into the picture and that makes it quite complex. It’s very difficult to know exactly how it will be. But if we train to be peaceful in every moment now, I think we will meet death with more grace and ease.

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