As the days grow shorter we can’t help but think of the shortness of our own days. Moving through fall and winter has us thinking about our own mortality. In two weeks (November 5) the parish will pray at the 9:00 Mass for all those whose funeral or memorial Mass we have celebrated in the past year. I encourage our parishioners to join us at this Mass to support those who lost a loved one.
I just recently read a number of books about dying and caring for those who are dying: Being Mortal, When Breath Becomes Air and A Bittersweet Season. Reading them in succession reminded me of how important it is not just for us individually but for our family and loved ones to have in good order the details concerning the last things. Appointing someone to have durable power of attorney and medical power of attorney is essential so that our advanced medical directives are carried out if and when we can’t make those decisions for ourselves is very important. If one intends to donate his or her body to medical research, those papers have to be completed in advance. Needless to say, our wills need to be updated periodically. For example, in my own case, now that my brother has died, I need to revise any number of my will’s details. I especially encourage those of us who are a bit older to have plans for our funeral, memorial mass or burial prepared and readily accessible. For some people managing all these details for a loved one at the time of death is not a big problem, but for some others overwhelmed by the loss find these matters especially difficult. Besides, having these matters in good order minimizes the stress and disagreements that often arise in families about decisions to be made how things at the end should be handled.