Is a "Happy Death" possible?
For Christians, dying is an adventure in Christ.
Many of us are afraid of death because we fear the unknown of what lies ahead of us. However, because of the promises of Jesus and His victory over sin and death, a happy death is possible. It becomes an opportunity for us to witness the transition of a soul from this life into the next. As Christians, we can count on the hope of living with the Blessed Trinity and all the angels and saints in Heaven when our journey on earth ends.
The Church has long considered St. Joseph the Worker, foster father of Jesus, to be the patron of a happy death. His earthly life ended with his wife Mary and son Jesus by his side. While the earthly passing of a loved one surely brings overwhelming waves of sadness, there are a few things that some families have noted to have helped them usher a loved one into the experience of a peaceful and “happy death”. Some examples include:
- Having a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.
- Looking forward to what lies ahead in Heaven and imagining being in the
presence of Jesus.
- Playing praise & worship music at home, the hospital or the hospice.
- Receiving the healing Sacraments of the Eucharist, Last Rites, and Reconciliation.
- Taking care of any grievances that were experienced in life, including forgiving any past hurts and letting go of regrets.
- Seeking answers to questions regarding faith - including questions about death, the afterlife, salvation, forgiveness, etc.
- Reflecting on life’s blessings and cultivating gratitude.
- Reflecting on the Paschal Mystery of Jesus Christ and praying for wisdom to understand Jesus' death and resurrection - and what that means for all who believe.
- Practicing silence and meaningful reflection.
- Arranging the management of pain relief so that the person can focus on matters other than bodily discomfort.
- Arranging for organ donation (if applicable) as a way of making a gift of oneself to those in need.
- Gathering one’s family and friends to encourage the feeling of being connected and loved by one’s community.
- Ensuring some form of legacy is kept about the individual - whether it is by writing down a life story in a diary or recording it through voice or video. Some hospice volunteers invite patients who are near death to record their stories via audio tape so that they may gift it to the family after that person passes away.