Friends General Conference

Together we nurture the spiritual vitality of Friends
A Quaker community in Frederick, Maryland

A Way to Say Goodbye

Public ContentAnyone can view this post

The following was prepared by the Ministry and Counsel Committee at Frederick Friends Meeting, drawing on similar guides prepared by fellow Quaker Meetings.

We know that, sooner or later, each of us will move on from this earthly life. We may be apprehensive about this journey, and would rather not think about it yet. However, whether we are young or old, now is the best time to make arrangements so that our final affairs will be in good order. 

Whenever it occurs, our death will come as a shock to our loved ones. They could be faced with a confusing maze of questions, laws, and customs. We can make our departure much less painful for them by making some preparations now. 

This booklet, "A Way to Say Goodbye," has been prepared to help you do this. It should guide you in the right direction, and although it does not give every bit of information you will need, it does describe a general procedure and suggests some sources of information. Finally, although this information has been prepared for Friends, it may be helpful to those in other groups as well.

O God our father, spirit of the universe, I am old in years and in the sight of others, but I do not feel old within myself. I have hopes and purposes, things I wish to do before I die. A surging of life within me cries, "Not yet! Not yet!" more strongly than it did ten years ago, perhaps because the nearer approach of death arouses the defensive strength of the instinct to cling to life.

Help me to loosen, fiber and fiber, the instinctive strings that bind me to the life I know. Infuse me with thy spirit so that it is thee I turn to, not the old ropes of habit and thought. Make me poised and free, ready when the intimation comes to go forward eagerly and joyously into the new phase of life that we call death.

—Elizabeth Grey Vining's prayer on reaching her seventieth birthday

This relatedness of life, as it binds us to all that has passed, surely bind us to the future as well. So the divine spark kindled in us can never really be extinguished for it is part of a universal flame.

Once we have squarely faced the inescapable fact of our own death, we need never fear it but turn and live life to the hilt as we have seen that it should be lived. Then, whether that life be long or short, it will be a full one.

—From Bradford Smith's Pendle Hill Pamphlet "Dear Gift of Life"

The complete guide can be found at the link below.