Death is a Reality
Fourteen things to think about…

As a pastor, I have to deal with so many people who thought death was optional. They simply did not want to deal with the reality of death. I think of an emotional obstacle to this lack of planning. Experts state that one should not wait on these issues. Every person should have a last will and testament, an executor, regardless of age or wealth.

For the Christian the only mystery is the time and the place. We of all people should have these questions answered for ourselves and our family. For others, it remains something in the distant future, a sort of denial or that I will attend to that when the time comes, an unspoken belief that death is optional. While this might seem like a morbid topic, this is an essential conversation for couples to have. At death, far too many people leave a heavy emotional and financial burden on their families. Show love to your family by taking care of any uncompleted decisions or financial affairs today.

I recommend some steps you should take to make sure your family knows your wishes on everything from funeral plans to end-of-life care. They may not be fun, but they will bring you peace of mind today, and provide guidance to the friends and family members you leave behind. Here is the list for your consideration, practical preparations for death:

Tennessee Law states:

No.1. Give someone durable power of attorney to manage your affairs if you become sick and unable to do so yourself.

“Who is going to pay your bills, deposit your checks, manage your financial affairs and your business if you have one,” Remember today, live a lot longer in general, and most of us will live under some chronic condition or disability that will impair us. The goal is to live with as much control and quality of life as possible.

No. 2. Write a will. Read it over with your heirs and executor and if necessary make changes. Insurance coverage for Sufficient estate planning for most people now that estates worth up to $2 million are tax exempt (in 2009 that will go up to $3.9 million). But, this may not be true under Obama Care.

No. 3. Living Will: Write an advanced-care directive or living will, and give someone medical power of attorney to carry out your wishes about medical treatment at the end of your life. Every Attorney states: “Name someone you trust totally.”

Without this, you could end up like Terri Schiavo, the Florida woman who triggered a battle between her husband and her parents after a heart attack left her with massive brain damage. Her husband claimed she would not want to be kept alive in such a condition, but her parents disagreed.

No. 4. Write up a “Legacy Letter.” Include in it bank account numbers, life insurance policy numbers, retirement accounts, locations of important documents, and any debts you may have, including regular bills due.

No. 5. Make a funeral plan. Include hymns, readings, special speakers, and location of service preferences. Share it with your priest. They keep files with this sort of thing.

No. 6. Military funeral: besides the funeral arrangements, have your DD 214 available with your paperwork. This provides the military about branch of service, awards, tours, rank, total years of honorable service, eligibility for service related benefits such as burial plots in National Cemeteries, chaplain support, service related color guard, military flags, etc..

No. 7. Make clear your desires for your remains.

No. 8. Make a list of digital passwords you use regularly.

No. 9. If you have children, set up a trust for their education, and make it clear in your will.

No. 10. Set up a Durable Power of Attorney for the event that you are unable to make medical decisions for yourself. Pick someone trustworthy for this role and make your desires clear. Your priest is usually happy to serve in this way.

No. 11. Get a safe: fill it with all of the above and include vehicle titles, real estate titles, social security cards, passports, birth certificates, baptism certificates, marriage certificates, military records, family pictures, digital backups, etc. And, if you’re able, make sure there is some cash in it. Let a trusted friend or relative know how to open it. From time to time, remind them.

No. 12. Make backup keys of every door you unlock, whether of a vehicle or building. Put those in the safe, too.

No. 13. Make peace with others while you can: harsh words, unforgiveness, bitterness, resentment and anger can leave many family members, friends and others in a life of pain. Our God is a God of forgiveness, hope and mercy. Share it with others daily so no hurt feelings are left behind when you pass away from this world into the next.

No. 14. Purchase type funeral plan: This can be done early in life. If so, it is cheaper in the long run rather than waiting at the last minute when the funeral home can charge whatever they want. These are not cheap so do it now.

No.15. If Emmaus Abbey is asked to do the funeral we use the prayer book service which can be reviewed by the family prior to the service.

And then take a deep breath and say a prayer of thanksgiving, knowing that you won’t leave an enormous mess behind you!


At Emmaus Abbey, our focus when performing a funeral or memorial service is to use the resurrection of Jesus Christ as comfort and support while celebrating the life of the deceased. In the company of believers and through the uplifting strength of worship, family and friends can find the renewal of Christian faith, hope and love to sustain them in time of grief.

The distinction between a funeral service and a memorial service is whether the casket will be present.

A funeral is conducted with the casket present

If the casket is not present then we conduct a memorial service

If there would be a military funeral, a casket would be present and full military honors given at the grave side by a color guard. This requires the family contacting the VA for all arrangements of the honor guard detail, US flag and presentation of the flag.

For a military memorial service

In either type of service, the emphasis is in providing an uplifting celebration of God’s power over death through scripture readings, prayer and music.

Important Note: Times for services should not be set prior to confirmation of the availability of church facilities and the assignment of a priest and organist. To make arrangements or to inquire further about the services, please contact the church secretary at 865-661-1418.