Each of us treats death differently and each of us will experience death differently – and indeed everything that follows the dying process. Few of us remember that how we treat our death while we are alive will help, greatly, or hinder, possibly, what happens when we die.
I saw a friend die in great resistance and fear not so long ago both because he did not believe in life after death and because he had refused to accept and prepare for the fact that one day, somehow, his current human life would end. When the time came for him to become ill in circumstances that were painful and demeaning, he was unprepared. It could have been easier for him, whether he believed in an afterlife or not.
By contrast, I know a woman possibly in her final years now who has chosen to be honest and realistic about her death, and to be practical. Some years ago she made her will and invited the local pastor to her home to plan her funeral; her burial plot is identified and paid for, and she has made her arrangements for the disposal of her property. More recently, as minor recurrences of ill- health have come to her, she has thought about the manner of her dying and has considered what the boundaries of acceptability are for her, and she has decided to make a living will to ensure unwanted medical treatment is not given to her to prolong her life in certain circumstances. She has even talked to me about other choices to end her life easily when she is wishful. I admire her for her realism, with no self-pity, very much.
It helps that she is sound mentally even if her body is beginning to wear out, and I know some people do not have the opportunity to plan and prepare as she has done because they have lost the ability so to do. Many, however, have the capacity to look forward briefly and reflect upon the inevitability of their death, but few go beyond making a will, if even that, for they fear the idea of an end to the familiarity of this one human life, not knowing that the perpetuation of the fear will make the process of moving from one dimension to another so much harder.
It may seem strange to you that I am writing about the benefit of facing your death with pragmatism just now, as our world is filled with the sense of a new era and new hope, as a new season beckons and as, in the western world, the world of nature prepares to bring forth new life. Death, in fact, is life: Life is all around us, and never ends even if its outer form changes from time to time. To see your death in these terms, as a change of costume in a never ending play for which it helps to be ready, truly will serve you, whenever your time comes.