Taking Care of Death is Taking Care of Life

by , , | Feb 16, 2018

Creating your Departure Directions, Willow’s term for your written instructions or guidelines—determined by your values, beliefs and priorities—for how you wish to be cared for after you die will illuminate who and what matter to you, now. How does that work you ask?

Here’s how. Heart-centred and holistic end-of-life-planning begins with taking time to make sense of life and death. In our Departure Directions workshops for example, you start your journey by articulating your hopes and fears around your inevitable death and the core values that guide your living. We then dive into exploring the factors that can shape your choices for your after-death care and the scope of options that are available to you.  

What we observe with workshop participants, coaching clients, and ourselves is that our insights around our inevitable death and dying are inextricably linked to the life we’re living.

Here’s an illustration of how this shows up for each of us:

For Michelle: After I die, I want my body to be cared for (washed, shrouded, watched over, transported) by people who love me, not a stranger. For me these tender and loving acts are ways of honouring my body for all its service to me during my life. When sharing with a dear friend the other day that I’d gifted myself with the rare occurrence of sleeping in two-days in a row, I noted the contradiction I was living! I’ve declared that I want my body to be honoured after I die yet, I routinely fail to honour my body in the here and now, in this case, by getting enough rest.

For Reena: Where I get stuck around how I want to be cared for after I die is where I get stuck in my spiritual life. I was raised in a secular Jewish family. While I deeply appreciate many of the Jewish deathcare and mourning practices, I haven’t committed to a Jewish burial because it doesn’t all resonate with me. The ambivalence I have about my after-death care wishes is really about my still-to-be-worked-out relationship to my own spiritual practice and identify.

Dying and living authentically and in alignment with your values and priorities is an intentional journey. Click here to download of Willow’s free tool, 9 Things to Include in Your Departure Directions

What about you?

What do your wishes and worries about your after-death care reveal about you and your life?

Resting in peace is as much about life as it is about death.
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  • My mother passed away at the end of April, and there was some disagreement in the family about burial and cremation, and about funeral service. Before this event, I always said I didn’t care what happened to my body after I died, but this has made me realize that I want the most ecological way and it started me thinking about how I need certain things to help me through when a person I love dies, and how I want to facilitate that when it comes time for me to die, and how I want to be remembered. My mother’s passing has started a whole thought process for me, and I am grateful for that.

    • Thank you for sharing your experiences, insights and desires Jocelyne.Your clarity about taking action and your gratitude for your learning are inspiring. I know that fear of disagreement is motivating me to support my parents to plan ahead. We’re not complete yet but conversations are unfolding. Take good care, Michelle

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