“I’m preparing to die. ” I visited with a woman in her eighties who told me she is spending a fair bit of time reading, writing, learning, talking and thinking about death. Even though she isn’t terminally ill she wants to be ready to die. She feels the more she can prepare herself for death and accept it as a natural part of life, the easier it will be for her and her family.
I just finished reading Madeleine L’ Engle’s book The Summer of the Great Grandmother where she describes the last summer of her mother’s life. L’ Engle says we experience a series of ‘letting go’ events or ‘deaths’ that can prepare us for the end of our life.
L’ Engle suggests we die to childhood and are born to adolescence. We die to adolescence and become adults. We die to our single selves when we become someone’s partner or parent. When we move to a new place or a new career we experience a kind of death. She thinks these experiences can teach us things that will make the end of our lives easier.
We spend much of our childhood and adolescence being educated and prepared for our adult lives. Many couples attend counseling sessions or retreats to prepare for marriage. I took prenatal classes and read books to prepare for parenthood. Many people take seminars and visit a financial planner to prepare for retirement . It makes sense that just as we prepare for these other deaths and rebirths during our lifetime we should also prepare for our final death and rebirth.