SHARE YOUR FAITH: In the HERITAGE OF HOPE VIDEO SERIES, Ida Strickland states, “My parents showed me how to live and how to die.” We can do the same for our children by choosing faith over fear and looking beyond death to glory. Believing the Bible and looking at death as a transition to eternal life changes everything! Our faith removes much of the sting or grief for us and those who love us (1 Corinthians 15:55). Our last days on this earth may be an outstanding opportunity to share our core belief in Jesus Christ and the eternal future He has purchased for us as well as how He has redeemed our earthly lives. Does your family share your faith?
SHARE YOUR GAME PLAN: I anticipate choosing not to fight my last illness, so I have been preparing my family for this preference for years. Why? There is a tendency in our culture to view death as a failure, to call on those near the end to be fighters and encourage them to somehow beat the disease that afflicts them. Ecclesiastes 3:2 states eloquently that there is a time to heal, but there is also a time to die. Scripture uses numerous metaphors to picture the end of life as a victory (I Cor.15:55), as finishing the race (Acts 20:24), as going home (2 Cor. 5:8), not as defeat. Jesus Christ himself declared his mission complete from the cross when he declared, “It is finished!” (John 19:30) I wish to do the same, and I want my family on my team. What is your game plan or exit strategy?
How do I prepare my family for my own finish line? I mention death now and again. It is not a taboo subject in my presence even though I am now the oldest member of the family. I also remind them that their father and I have been fighting for fitness our entire adult lives with vigorous exercise, a healthy diet, lots of water etc. We hope to make it clear that we are not striving for longevity or denying the reality of death. Rather, we work out to prevent avoidable, degenerative diseases. Together, we fight for good health now that we may enjoy the numbered days God gives us . . . and we pray for strength to match our days (Deut. 33:25) that we may bear much fruit! Since our efforts could easily be misunderstood, we state repeatedly that we are not fighting for a longer life—but a healthy one. We are purposely setting the stage for mutual understanding and release when our departure times come . . . when it is time to hold hands.
SHARE YOUR PREFERRED COMFORTS: Like my mother, I would love to have a dear one hold my hand. I would also enjoy having God’s Word read to me. Listening to worship songs together would be comforting and uplifting. Praying together in thankfulness for all God has done would be especially sweet. Most of all—I would like to hear the hearts of my loved ones as we say our good-byes—for now. If there is any unfinished business in my relationships, I would very much like the opportunity to heal any hurts I have caused. Life can be messy, but love transcends and heals by the power of the Holy Spirit. What are your preferred comforts?
You might find FIVE WISHES to be a very helpful guide as you work your way through this decision-making process. WISH 1 is a legal means of appointing your medical representative. WISH 2 specifies the kind of medical treatment you want and when.* WISH 3 is how comfortable you want to be. WISH 4 is how you wish to be treated. WISH 5 is what you want loved ones to know. You may purchase forms via www.agingwithdignity.org or (888) 5-WISHES, (888) 594-7437.
*As with Advance Directives, Heritage of Hope suggests that you keep the kinds of medical treatment you want off the official forms so medical personnel will consult your medical representative.
HOW DO WE MAKE OUR DEATH EASIER ON OUR PEOPLE? Planning ahead and preparing your people for your departure does make your death easier on the ones you love. More specifically, PART 1 suggested that we let them know who is in charge of our care when we are not. PART 2 encouraged us to consider, decide, and share our preferences about our care at the end of life. Finally, PART 3 advocates that we share our faith, our game plan, and our preferred comforts. With these decisions made and communicated, our loved ones can honor our wishes when the time comes and know they have done so. Such knowledge can be very comforting to those you will be leaving behind.