Accepting mortality and caring for each other in the moment

Margaret Heath writes:

Living through a pandemic touches us all and inevitably makes us reflect on our mortality. As Friends we are advised (Advices & Queries #30):

“Are you able to contemplate your death and the death of those closest to you? Accepting the fact of death, we are freed to live more fully.”

As Bath Quakers we are lucky, as one Friend wrote to me recently, to feel part of a warmly supportive community. Our Elders, Overseers and others do not always tell us, unless we ask, quite how much they are in touch with Friends, providing support and pastoral care. A great deal goes on unadvertised, with individuals supporting each other in compassion and love.

In our breakout discussion group after online Meeting last Sunday end of life was a topic.

I have attended several courses, including the excellent End of Life Matters series of six Meetings for Learning last year. I pass on here some of what had struck me from those discussions. It cannot be a comprehensive list; others are invited to add to this.

We reached the view it is important to allow discussion of death with the terminally ill *if they so wish*. Pretending they will recover, or refusing to listen, is cruel. However some prefer not to mention the subject; this must also be respected.

In discussing preparation for the end of life disposition of material goods seems to be less important than resolving any poor relationships. Again and again this came up as a priority, in order to avoid regrets. Helping others seems to be the clue to happiness, and for us trying to discern God’s will.

As George Fox stressed any one of us can open the door and allow God in; there are no specially chosen. We are all potential passers-on of God’s wonderful concern. As we heard in Ministry last week: if we are born, we shall die. There is no escaping this. Fear and anxiety about the future spoils the present and we should live in the present moment.

Accepting that fact, perhaps Friends would also like to write in and say how they have been helped at this time of the virus. Do share any favourite reading, music, TV or other diversions. Please also share any particular worries. Bear in mind we can grieve not only for loss of loved ones but for loss of freedom or work. Other Friends are here to help.

In addition we can share outside resources which we can use or all others about. Two years ago I collated a booklet, shared via Christ Church, called Where to turn for the elderly and vulnerable. It’s now available online here, and open to comments or updates.

One final practical tip. If you are unlucky enough to be admitted to hospital you’ll take your phone of course. But remember also to take your phone charger!

Spring blossom in the Quaker Burial Ground (photo: Susan Tomes)

Spring flowers in the Quaker Burial Ground (photo: Susan Tomes)

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