One of the many things that priests do is walk with people through the difficult chapters of their lives. No two chapters are ever written in the same manner and yet no matter how they are written, there are similarities in them. In almost every situation, there is loss and there is grieving. For those that are left dealing with the incidents, it can be very difficult to put affairs in order. Fortunately, there are ways in which we, as loved ones, can help alleviate some of those difficulties. What follows are three examples of different ways things are handled.
This summer when Ryan was accidentally electrocuted, I became aware of my own mortality and that accidents happen. While I have already planned my funeral and created an Advanced Health Care Directive, I realize that I haven’t updated either of them in over six years and now might be the time to revisit them. I also realize that no one in this area actually knows where any of the documents are located so they do no one any good.
As we prepared for a funeral last week, I was very thankful that she had prayed, thought and planned the services down to the minutest detail. Not only had she written them down, but she also shared them with St. Matthew’s so we had them on file. In a time of great suffering for the family not having to question the family for planning purposes was a gift that she gave them. They were able to spend those days between her death and funeral grieving their loss.
Just this past week, I was called to the hospital for a friend that was found in her home unconscious. She was unable to speak or make decisions for herself. Unfortunately, no one knew who her healthcare power of attorney was, whether she had an advanced directive or even who her attorney might be. The doctors and hospital staff were making decisions based upon medical protocol and not necessarily what her wishes were. If she had the necessary documents and information no one knew where or what they said.
In each of these incidents, the frailty of life was present. It makes me aware of just how easy it is for something we never thought could happen does. And it also makes me realize just how important it is that our loved ones know how to handle the everyday issues within our lives. That is where advanced directives, pre-planning funerals, wills, senior health records and personal affairs records come in handy. Each of these forms allows you, your family, and the medical community access to your wishes when needed. My parish already stores funeral arrangements for parishioners. I am sure, that if any parishioner wished, your home church would also store any of the above forms at the church in order that they are readily available when needed. If you have any question about any of the forms mentioned above, not only do I have blank copies to offer, but can also help explain what each of the forms are used for and why they are important to have completed.
Take a few minutes and give one of the greatest gifts you are able to give to your family and friends by completing the forms and sharing them with your loved ones.