by Nancy A. Waldron
The following are excerpts from the book, A Joyful Miracle: How I made my father’s death a joyful miracle and how you can plan for this too, by Nancy A. Waldron.
As I watched the life slowly flow out of my father, I felt strangely calm and peaceful. I marveled that I could feel so calm as I heard the gurgling sound in his lungs stop and I watched him become still. I thought about this calmness at the time and have given considerable thought to it since.
My experience during his illness and death was easier because of the steps I took to prepare. Years ago, I was a person who didn’t think I could stand it if my father died. I felt like I would go to pieces as the loss would be so great.
I asked his Spirit not to leave his body at a couple of points in my life when I believe he had the opportunity to make his transition. I had the conscious awareness, or knowing, that if I asked, it could make a difference in him staying a while longer.
I define “conscious awareness” as choosing to look at, and be aware of, as many meanings as possible in all that happens, and what my connection is to Spirit. My definition of “unconscious awareness” is that whatever happens I choose not to look at it or be aware of any but the most obvious meaning in it. I define “Spirit” as God or God Force or Higher Power; in other words, that Divine energy that flows to, through, and from me.
I started my grieving process a couple of years before, well in advance of his death. For a while I wrote him many letters about the things I loved and didn’t love about him. At times, I cried when I wrote to him, no matter what the letter was about. I did not mail any of these letters. I hand wrote and mailed one letter in which I told him how much I loved him, how precious he was to me, and how much I would miss him when he was gone.
Then I switched from writing to thinking and resolving things in my mind. I thought about our life together, grieved for what we had missed, and celebrated what we had shared. I cried happy tears because I had such a deep “conscious awareness” of our spiritual experience in our life journey together.
While I grieved the loss of the rare connection that I felt Daddy and I had with each other, there were also things that I did not like about my father. I found many surprise gifts for my heart through the things I did not like about him. I learned that by not getting what I wanted from him I discovered what I had really wanted, and saw in some cases where I had gotten it at a much later point in my life than when I first wanted it. I also saw that if I had gotten it at the time I wanted it, I wouldn’t have made the efforts I did to grow and change. I then forgave him for not giving me what I wanted and forgave myself for holding onto the anger and withholding my love from him at times.
After forgiveness came such a peaceful feeling along with the knowledge that the lesson was “divinely inspired” to expand my conscious understanding of love through our relationship. With each revelation, I experienced a lightness that occurred within my physical body. Ultimately, my love for everyone was strengthened as well as my connection with God. I am so grateful for the joyful miracle I experienced by allowing myself to really feel all of these things.
After I received the call that he had nine cancerous spots on his lung, I wrote out his obituary, an outline of the funeral service, rewrote a poem he had sent me years ago, found a special picture of him I had saved, and wrote a thank you note for the family to send after his death and funeral. Through doing these things I lived his death in advance, and I celebrated and grieved each step of the way. I meditated daily and prayed frequently. Many more ordinary and special miracles occurred during his illness and death. They were all a joyful miracle for me.
Suggested Death Check List©
Do these things now or as soon as possible:
_____ Establish revocable living trust, and/or review or make will now
_____ Purchase complete death package (cemetery plot, crypt, cremation)
_____ Write a list of everything you want in your Celebration of Life service or funeral
_____ Write obituary of main life events (you can always update it)
_____ Make, or review, a list of mail addresses, email addresses, and phone numbers (review yearly to update)
_____ Save a good picture
Do these things when death is imminent:
_____ Notify family and friends of pending or actual death
_____ Meet with mortuary representative
_____ Pay costs at end of meeting
_____ Write short obituary for newspaper(s)
Do these things as soon as a person dies:
_____ Select casket or cremation urn (ask family if they want a token jewelry item with ashes in it)
_____ Ascertain where ashes are to be placed (garden, ocean, mountains, etc.)
_____ Casket location and open or closed
_____ Select brochure cover and contents (service outline, poems, life obituary, photos)
_____ Set times for family and public viewing of body, if appropriate
_____ Determine number of death certificates needed (order more than you think you will need as we found every business/company/policy wanted an original copy and they are cheaper if you order all at once)
_____ Plan funeral or Celebration of Life
_____ Decide on date and time
_____ Funeral or Celebration of Life Service location (Church, cemetery or elsewhere)
_____ Presiding official(s)
_____ Pall bearers (How many or none)
_____ Music (vocal/organ/piano/instrumental)
_____ Choose poem, sayings, or scripture favorites
_____ Tape record or video
_____ Pictures (check camera, film and batteries)
_____ Determine if immediate family member(s) or friend(s) want to speak at service
_____ Flowers (identify type and color preference, if any)
_____ Donations (name(s) and addresses of organizations)
_____ Transportation (home to church, church to cemetery, back to home, or none)
_____ Child care
_____ Handicapped needs
_____ Meal afterward (donated or catered or none)
Do these things after the service and the days following:
_____ Plan following days’ activities (make lists)
_____ Determine survivor’s desires
_____ Make business decisions
_____ Notify executor, if appropriate
_____ Remove belongings of deceased, if requested
_____ Arrange for or take things to be donated
_____ Ask if close relatives or friends want anything of deceased
_____ Select and disperse Items for giving or mailing to close relatives or friends
_____ Write thank you notes
_____ Assist with rearranging clothes or furniture, if survivor desires
_____ Rest periodically
_____ Plan little and big celebrations
_____ Contact burial organization for flower and visitation rules
Do these things during the weeks following:
_____ Review trust or will
_____ Review financial status (loans, bills, savings, checking, safe deposit boxes) (Check for secret hiding places – my husband found $265 cash hidden in a book)
_____ Review all assets owned (personal and property, partnerships, corporations)
_____ Review titles on all property
_____ Review all incoming medical and nonmedical bills and verify before paying
_____ Review paper and computer files
_____ Cancel magazines, newsletters and papers, if appropriate
_____ Contact Social Security Administration
_____ Contact credit card companies for reissue and possible insurance policy
_____ Contact banks and credit unions for account name change and possible insurance policy (most cover accidental death and dismemberment)
_____ Contact life insurance agent
_____ Contact automobile insurance agent
_____ Contact investment broker(s)
_____ Contact previous employer for possible death benefits or survivor’s pension
_____ Contact AAA for possible death benefits and any refund due
_____ Change health insurance policy coverage
_____ Check for refunds of subscriptions paid and insurance policy premiums
_____ Reissue traveler’s checks in survivor’s name
_____ Contact Certified Public Accountant (obtain advice on taxes, property, stocks, and other related matters)
_____ Contact attorney if needed (Certified Public Accountant is usually more economical and knowledgeable)
_____ Contact other agencies (if self-employed or employed by public or private company)
_____ Contact county officials to change title on residence
_____ Contact religious/spiritual organizations to ascertain tithing status
_____ Contact schools or educational organizations
_____ Contact military service organizations
_____ Check for patents pending
_____ Check for legal issues pending
_____ Check guardianship of minor children
_____ Check alimony or child support payments
_____ Cancel retail store credit cards and request reissue to survivor
_____ Cancel passport
Thank yourself for your courage, strength, and great love, for your willingness to do the difficult things, and for just being part of a family. Give yourself a hug!
About the author:
Nancy A. Waldron is an author and a spiritual mentor who facilitates Sacred Journey workshops, Sacred Journey Sessions, and Mount Shasta Spiritual Journeys. Nancy was born multi-gifted, and at a young age dedicated her life to the continuous opening to Spirit and to mentoring others. Her journey took her through therapy, churches, psychics, and healers, as well as a life-long study of spirituality. This process led her to decide to publicly share her innate spiritual knowing. Nancy and her deceased husband owned Sacred Healing, LLC, in Oregon.