Give Permission To Talk About The End Of Life. It is said that social interaction is improved by avoiding the topics of death, taxes and religion. However, our emotional needs are not served when we remain silent about death in our close relationships. Too often, the person who is dying doesn’t want to scare his loved ones by sharing his heart until the very last moment. Accordingly, the family doesn’t know if he is aware of what’s happening. For sure, they don’t want to take away his hope. Amazingly, families often ask Hospice workers not to tell the dying person they are from Hospice. Thus, everyone tip toes around each other’s feelings in polite denial, and a marvelous opportunity to bless each other is lost. Last words such as . . . I am sorry, I forgive you, Please forgive me, I love you . . . may impact the next generation deeply. Your example of discussing your own death in family meetings will give your loved ones permission to talk about your death in the future as well as when it is actually happening. What a gift.

Put Death in Perspective by sharing the reason for your faith—a loving God who sent his only begotten son, Jesus Christ, to make a way for all of us to be adopted into his family forever. Those who have said yes to adoption have a heritage of hope. As much as we treasure this life, it is brief. Even the gift of a long earthly life is short-term when compared to eternity. We are mortals with eternal souls. Death is not the end but a transition into an eternal realm beyond our imagining. Family meetings need to be practical, but they also give you an annual opportunity to joyously share your anticipation of eternity with Abba, our heavenly Father.

Build Your Team and Communicate a Game Plan that reflects your wishes and your authority. Be forewarned that announcing your choice of executor and medical representative may precipitate jealousy and even resentment. Discussing these roles in an Annual Family Meeting as well as the many others that need to be played can dissipate much conflict. Be sure everyone has a role to play. Grief, even with our hope in Christ Jesus, is hard. Let’s not make it harder. Give everyone a job that matches their abilities and gifting. Writing thank you notes, attending to flowers, or calling folks with updates are some of the tasks to be faced. Some families find it helpful to have one person be their spokesperson and man the phone and/or website regarding your status and/or funeral arrangements. I attended one funeral in which the teamwork was amazing. The father had died leaving three sons and a widow. During the reception following his mass, one son stayed at the widow’s side. Another son greeted guests as they came in the door of the church’s reception hall. The third son was a rover—interacting with guests and those in charge of refreshments. This family had a game plan that generated beautiful teamwork. You can do the same.

Jesus Did So. The gospels chronicle three separate times that the Lord brought up the subject of his impending death before The Last Supper. Repeatedly, his disciples pushed the subject aside. Think about the circumstances of these conversations for a moment. Jesus was young, vibrant and healthy. The disciples had watched him repeatedly heal other people—even raise them from the dead. Yet Jesus persisted and spoke his final piece in John 13-17, what is often referred to as the Upper Room Discourse. If I had to choose only 4 chapters of the Bible, this power packed account of Jesus’ final instructions would be my choice! Last words are powerful. Consider the message God would have you leave and do so.

They triumphed over him (accuser of our brothers and sisters) by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; they did not love their lives so much as to shrink from death. Revelation 12:10 NIV