Preparation for Death

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  1. More from ABC
  2. How to Prepare for the Death of a Loved One
  3. Spiritual Preparation for Death
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Writing a will allows you to set out who gets what after you die. If you have children your will should include names of guardians who would care for them if you were to die. Have the funeral you want, by making your wishes known.

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Planning ahead saves your family and friends the stress of trying to guess what you would have wanted. To attain some ideas and inspiration for arranging a funeral click here. Do talk to your family and health and care professionals, including your GP, about the sort of care you would like. Remember, you can change your mind about what you would want:. Whatever your wishes about organ donation, remember to let those close to you know about them.


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You could save or transform up to nine lives after your death by registering as a donor. Did you know that the average adult makes approximately 35, decisions every day? There are, however, some very important decisions you could make and actions to take which could have a really positive impact on your life and those you care about. You only die once. It is becoming increasingly important for us to get our digital affairs in order and prepare for death in the digital realm.

Ironically the best way to prepare for death digitally is to write a will and prepare offline. There are a number of ways in which we can prepare for death online. These include getting our digital affairs in order, providing directions for our digital estate and assigning our digital assets to chosen beneficiaries. If you have already written your will you may want to create a social media will. Whether or not your completed social media will becomes a legally binding document or not, will depend on a variety of different factors.

These range from whether the document has been legally verified according to the laws of your country to whether or not your directions go against the 'terms of service' previously agreed with each 'service provider' referenced within the document for example Facebook , Twitter etc. When you 'sign-up' to any online service they have their own rules and legally binding agreement based on the service they provide. Most TOS do not for example allow the ownership of accounts to be transferred.

Furthermore many services providers that allow you to purchase media such as music, books and videos do not allow for this media to be passed down once you die in the same way that books, videos and CDs are allowed. If your last will and testament were to state: " I would like my purchased iTunes library and the eBooks purchased for my kindle to be passed down to beneficiaries name " the directions stated would go against Apple and Amazon's terms of service.

Viaticum After the confession comes the reception of the Holy Eucharist as viaticum per modum viatici. At this time the communicant is exempted from the traditional natural fast. This privilege may be enjoyed repeatedly by the dying person during the illness. Strictly speaking, it is not extended to persons whose danger of death comes from a cause other than sickness, such as soldiers about to engage in battle or criminals about to be executed.

Still, even they, as appears from a declaration of the Sacred Congregation of Propaganda , 21 July, , may receive the Viaticum even though they are not fasting , if they find any considerable difficulty in observing the law. So far as is possible, nothing should be omitted which can help to confer upon the administration of the Viaticum becoming solemnity. This is all the more desirable in that sometimes the demeanor of those who are present on such occasions, and even of the sick person , is not such as to betray any very alert sense of the Presence that has come to hallow this last stage of life's journey.

It is needless to add that whatever the enlightened zeal of the priest or the careful piety of the bystanders can suggest ought to be done to awaken in the communicant a special degree of fervour, a more than ordinarily penetrating faith and ardent love on the occasion of what may be his final eating of the Bread of Life.

Extreme unction There follows the Sacrament of Extreme Unction, or anointing, as it is popularly designated. Here the clergyman may find himself confronted with prejudices which in spite of reiterated explanations seem to have an extraordinary vitality. His announcement that he purposes to anoint the sick person is often accepted by the patient and his friends as the reading of the death-warrant. It is necessary to point out that the Sacrament of Extreme Unction gives health not only to the soul , but also sometimes to the body.

The basis for the teaching is of course to be found in the well-known utterance of St.

How to Prepare for the Death of a Loved One

James v, 14, 15 : "Is any man sick among you? Let him bring in the priests of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord.


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  • And the prayer of faith shall save the sick man; and the Lord shall raise him up; and if he be in sins they shall be forgiven him. Although the existence of a precept to receive this sacrament cannot be established, still the failure to avail oneself of its efficacy out of sheer sloth would be a venial sin. It cannot be administered more than once during the same illness, unless, after some notable betterment which has either certainly or probably taken place, a new danger should supervene. In chronic diseases, therefore, such as tuberculosis, it will often happen that the sacrament may and ought to be repeated because of the recurrence of what is, morally speaking, a new danger.

    According to the discipline in vogue in the Latin Church , the unctions essential to the validity of the sacrament are those of the organs of the five senses--the eyes, ears, nostrils, mouth, and hands. There is a diversity in the custom as to the unctions to be added to those already enumerated; in the United States besides the parts mentioned, only the feet are anointed. The sick-room ought to be made ready for the visit of the priest on the occasion of his giving the last sacrament, it can at least be cleaned and aired.

    Spiritual Preparation for Death

    On a table covered with a white cloth there ought to be a lighted blessed candle, a crucifix, a glass of water, a spoon, a vessel containing holy water , and a towel. According to the rubric of the Roman Ritual the priest is to remind those who are present to pray for the sick person during the anointing, and it suggests that the Seven Penitential Psalms with the litanies might be employed for this purpose. Extreme unction, like other sacraments , produces sanctifying grace in the soul. It has, however, certain results proper to itself.

    Of these the principal one seems to be the getting rid of that spiritual torpor and weakness which are the baneful output of actual sin , and which would be such a serious handicap in this supreme moment. From the viewpoint of the Christian , the struggle to be maintained with the devil is now more formidable than ever, and a special endowment of heaven-sent strength is necessary for the soul's final victory.

    The "last blessing" The anointing is ordinarily succeeded by the conferring of the Apostolic benediction, or "last blessing", as it is commonly called. To this blessing a plenary indulgence is attached, to be gained, however, only at the hour of death, i.

    It is conferred in virtue of a special faculty granted to the bishops and by them delegated quite generally to their priests. The conditions requisite for gaining it are the invocation of the Holy Name of Jesus at least mentally, acts of resignation by which the dying person professes his willingness to accept all his sufferings in reparation for his sins and submits himself entirely to the will of God.

    As death approaches The cardinal disposition of soul at the approach of death are: a frequent eliciting of the acts of faith , hope, love , and contrition; a striving towards a more and more perfect conformity with the will of God and the constant maintaining of a penitential spirit. The words of St. Augustine are in point: "However innocent your life may have been, no Christian ought to venture to die in any other state than that of the penitent.

    Where the presence of the priest cannot for any reason be had, these prayers ought not to be omitted; they are nowadays easily obtainable in the vernacular and ought to be recited by those who watch beside the deathbed. The dying person should be invited to join in these petitions, without, however, harassing or fatiguing him. As the person is about to expire, the Ritual directs those who are by to pray more earnestly than ever; the Holy Name of Jesus is to be invoked, and such ejaculations as the following whispered in his ear: "Into thy hands, Lord, I commend my spirit"; "O Lord, Jesus Christ , receive my spirit"; " Holy Mary , pray for me"; " Mary Mother of grace, Mother of mercy, do thou protect me from the enemy and receive me at the hour of my death".

    Cases of special need When death is apprehended as imminent after a sudden seizure even in the act of sin , an accident, attempted suicide , and the like, and the person is meanwhile deprived of consciousness, the method of proceeding is as follows: Conditional absolution is imparted, Viaticum of course is omitted, as it is likewise when the person , though in possession of his senses, is subject to an almost unintermittent vomiting. Extreme unction and the last blessing are given as usual. In such an extremity, when the person is unable to make a confession, extreme unction may prove to be the most effective and necessary means of alleviation.

    It is interesting to note that recent investigations have made it plain that it is no longer possible to determine even within a considerable margin the precise moment of death. Father Ferreres, S. The practical value of this statement is that absolution and extreme unction may be given conditionally for some time after the person would have hitherto been reputed to be dead. In what has been said, it is taken for granted that the person to be gotten ready for death is baptized. If this is not so, or if there be a doubt about it, either as to fact or validity, then of course baptism must first be administered, either absolutely or conditionally, as the case warrants after some instruction on the principal truths of religion.

    Baptism may be conferred conditionally on those who are unconscious in as far as they can be presumed to have the desire of receiving it.

    Prepare to Die!

    It is perhaps worth while to add here that, when there is question of the dying, it is the mind of the Church that her minister should avail himself of any sort of probability, no matter how slight, in order to be able to give absolution , at least conditionally. He then applies with great amplitude the principle, Sacramenta propter homines.

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    Practically, therefore, the only case in which the priest in these circumstances may not absolve is when the person refuses the sacraments , or is manifestly discerned to have a perverse disposition of soul. In medieval England Lingard , in his "Antiquities of the Anglo-Saxon Church", gives a description of the discipline in force among the Anglo-Saxons of the medieval period with regard to the preparation of the dying for the end.

    He says: "At the first appearance of danger, recourse was had to the ministry of the parish priest or of some distinguished clergyman in the neighborhood. He was bound to obey the summons and no plea but that. Attended by his inferior clergy , arrayed in the habits of their respective orders, he repaired to the chamber of the sick man, offered him the sacred rites of religion and exhorted him to prepare his soul to appear before the tribunal of his Creator.