Preparing for Summerland During Samhain
Author: Crystal T.
During the Sabbat of Samhain, many of us think it is the time when we need to remember our ancestors. Many of us set out photos of our relatives, friends and other loved ones that have passed. Some of us may set the table one night this month for a “Dumb Supper”. The veil is considered to be at its thinnest, and yet during this time one topic is rarely ever discussed:
Death. Yes, you read it correctly, death. More importantly, this is about your death!
Remembering the past is indeed a beautiful thing, but what about a topic that not a lot of people think about during this time… how would YOU want to be remembered when your time comes?
No matter if you want to be buried, cremated, or otherwise, one thing will most likely happen: An obituary will be written in your name. In some cases, someone who has never met you writes it. Your local newspaper editor is simply putting together words about you from a standardized form that was supplied to them by the funeral home that handled the processing of your physical body. I don’t mean to seem cold; it is something I don’t want to happen to me. I want to be remembered for what I accomplished in my lifetime, the things I loved, as well as the people I loved. Granted, the paper may not always honor final your wishes, but there are some things you can do to insure that your directives are followed.
Back in 2008, my father passed away. This motivated me to start researching on what I wanted when my time came. I began to research various things from “Pagan funeral” to “Green Burial”. I met a wonderful woman and Death Midwife, Nora Cedarwind Young as a result of my research. Throughout the past few years, she has become a mentor and friend. I have also learned from Nora to be pro-active in planning what I want to happen when my time comes to return to Gaia. Nora has taught me that there are six essential documents a person should have prepared and ready for when their time comes. They are:
1. A Will: A will is a legal document that states what you want to happen after you die. It includes naming a person or persons in charge of handling your estate, distribution of any property, and naming care for any minor children such as guardianship.
2. A Living Will: A Living Will is the document that will distinguish your wishes regarding medical treatments in prolonging your life when you are unable to do so for yourself. This may also be called a Health Care Directive or Advance Directive. A Living Will is also only good when your medical prognosis is deemed unrecoverable such in cases of a terminal illness.
3. Power of Attorney – Health: This paper names a person who would be in charge of your health and make decisions for you in the case you are not able to make them for yourself. This is also known as a Health Care Proxy.
4. Power of Attorney – Finance: This is the document where you would name someone to take charge of your finances when you are unable to do so yourself. Normally it will be your spouse, parent, adult child, or person you deem worthy of the responsibility.
5.Disposition of Body: This is the paper where you state your desire for burial, cremation, organ donation, etc. Please note that in some states, your spouse or next of kin has more rights to determine what is done with your body after you die more so than you do. This is where communication of your desires and wishes are discussed with your family.
6.HIPAA: This form is not to be confused with a HIPPA, which is something else. For a HIPAA you will need to complete and sign a HIPAA Privacy Authorization Form if you want a person beside yourself to have access to your medical records while you are competent.
If you are financially able, prepare these forms as soon as you can. I personally update my records every Samhain just in case something has changed. If you are not able to prepare these forms with a lawyer, there are some computer software applications available for a small amount available at your local office supply store, Best Buy, or available on the internet. Dependent on which state you live in, you might need to determine if the computer software “do it yourself” versions are legal.
Recently this past year, I was diagnosed with kidney disease. This began a journey for me into the many cases of “what if”. I am in no way ready to use any of these six essential documents, but I do however want my husband to be prepared on what I want to happen should something happen to me. I have everything written down in a notebook. We are in the process of drafting paperwork with a lawyer after saving up to prepare it for the welfare of our children should something happen to the both of us for guardianship of our minor children. I want him to know what I want as regarding funeral rites right down to the articles of clothing I want to wear. I have certain items that I wish passed on to (or returned to original person that gifted them to me) others that I have purchased or received over the years.
All these items are very important. One last thing you might want to consider writing during this time of year is your own obituary. Now your version may not make it to the newspapers, but it could be a valuable gift to those you love. This document would be the story of your life.
What do you want to be remembered for? What accomplishments did you achieve over your lifetime? What were your favorite foods, songs, television show, movies, etc? Give them the details that you want them to have. Throw in a fact or two they may not even know. Make them laugh; make them cry.
They will be glad that you gave them this last gift. In essence, this would be writing your own biography. Give them a piece of your history with this document. By simply writing the story of your life and then updating it each and every Samhain as our lives change and grow, it will make it easier on your family in the long run… knowing what your final wishes are and how you want to be remembered.
If you need more information about any of these things, I urge you pay a visit to Nora Cedarwind Young’s website. It is called Thresholds of Life (www.thresholdsoflife.org) and contains much valuable information.
I wish each and every one of you a “Spellbound Samhain”!