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Memento mori: Getting your body and soul ready in 2023

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Cecilia Pigg - published on 01/03/23

Prepare yourself -- body and soul -- and help your loved ones by asking yourself these 6 questions as you look ahead into a new year.

I did a double take as I passed the charming cottage with the red roof in our neighborhood. Something wasn’t right. The windows were gone, and people were moving things through the holes where they had been. Uh-oh, I thought.

Turns out they had a house fire on Christmas morning. Everyone managed to get out in enough time, but it has been sobering to drive past their home these past few weeks. It has made me take stock—am I ready, body and soul, for whatever may happen this year?

I’m making up a list of practicals for my body and soul, so that I can be at peace knowing I’ve done my part to be ready for the end.

That may seem like a melancholy way to start the new year, but there never seems to be the right time to think about these kind of things. We should always be prepared to meet God face to face so here are some questions to ask yourself about life and end-of-life matters…

Do you have a will?

This needs to be the year I make a will. I know it is good to do, but I haven’t yet made it a priority. I thought this guide was helpful as it got me thinking about what my death and/or the death of my husband would entail for our family. Who will take care of our children? Do we have a document that contains information about our finances that would make it easy for someone else to come and put our affairs in order?

What is your life insurance situation?

I know we got an inexpensive policy to cover funeral expenses for my eldest son, but I need to check to see if we have done that for my subsequent children. Recently we looked over policies for myself and my husband, and made some changes as my income is no longer the key income for our family. 

Do you have any strong preferences about your funeral?

And if you do, have you written them down somewhere or told someone close to you about them?

I know for myself that I do not want to be cremated, and after walking through many cemeteries, I have a kind of tombstone I would NOT prefer. I used to have several hymns and readings picked out that I wanted at my funeral Mass, but as I attend more funerals, I am less concerned about what hymns and readings are chosen—those details affect the living who attend the funeral more than they do the person in the coffin. So, I think it might be better for someone living to make those decisions. 

Now, here are some practicals to make sure your soul is ready for death, whenever that may come … 

Do people in your life know that you would like the sacrament of the sick when you are close to death?

If you don’t know much about this wonderful sacrament, check out this article and video.

I accidentally received this sacrament once (long story), and had a profound healing experience, so I can only imagine how powerful it would be when approaching death. Make sure someone close to you knows how important this will be for you if you are seriously injured, ill, or moved to hospice at some point.

Do you have a plan to go to confession at least during Lent this year?

The Church asks us to go to receive this Sacrament at least once a year, and we must receive Holy Communion at least once a year during the Easter season. So, if you haven’t been in a while, make sure it’s on your calendar this year during Lent. The grace that we receive from Confession can help us live our daily lives better, and the more we go, the easier it becomes. 

Do you have a relationship with St. Joseph?

St. Joseph is the patron of happy deaths. There are so many resources about him from the year of St. Joseph — check out a few here. Ask him for help to prepare you for a good death. 

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