Preparing for Our Journey Home
We continue our journey through this special month of November, remembering and praying for our beloved dead. Ironically, we also busily prepare to celebrate Thanksgiving and the festivities of Christmas.
These two holidays are times of rediscovering family and remembering our deceased loved ones, especially those who have recently passed.
As families gather, it is abundantly obvious that everyone is growing older. Many, however, have been pretending they will never die: no will, no funeral plans, and no sign that they will ever leave this earth. The harsh news is that the loved ones gathering for the holiday may also be those who will suddenly assume the burdens of the funeral, the burial and the estate. They will be attempting to deal with their own grief as they struggle to make these crucial – and sometimes expensive – decisions. The unplanned and unprepared death of a parent or grandparent can often result in conflict and chaos among those left behind and create chasms that never heal. A little advance preparation can help the survivors through this difficult time in their lives.
At the very least, every adult should make some decisions, commit them to writing and communicate their location to someone(s). These may include a will, funeral directives and instructions for final disposition. The Pastoral Care ministry at Prince of Peace (PastoralCare@pophouston.org) can assist anyone at any time in making some or all of their funeral plans.
Speaking from 21 centuries of faith and experience, the Church offers some important instructions from the Order of Christian Funerals:
- The period before death may be an appropriate time to plan the funeral rites with the family and even the family member who is dying… this can have the effect of helping the one who is dying and the family face the reality of death with Christian hope (n. 17).
- In baptism, the body became a temple of the Holy Spirit. Christians respect and honor the bodies of the dead and the places where they rest. It is the ancient Christian custom to bury or entomb the bodies of the dead (n. 19).
- When the choice has been made to cremate a body, it is recommended that the cremation take place after the funeral (n. 418), but it may also take place prior to the funeral (n. 426). The cremated remains should be treated with the same respect given to the human body from which they come (n. 417).
- The practice of scattering cremated remains or keeping them in the home of a relative (or portioning them out into personal jewelry) are not reverent disposition (n. 417).
During this coming season of hospitality, let’s not neglect to prepare for our own journey Home.