Here are some of the things we need to do to properly prepare for our death and for what comes beyond.
If we’ve been on a long train journey and are now nearing our destination, what do we do? We start getting ready for our arrival. So, we may have a wash, brush our hair and straighten our clothes. We may gather our stuff that’s lying around and pack it back in our bags. We may say goodbye to our fellow passengers. And so on. In these ways, we make preparations for the end of our journey and our arrival at our destination.
In just the same way, we need to make the necessary preparations for the end of our journey of life in this world, which comes with death, and our arrival at our destination, which is the Hereafter.
Death, of course, knows no age barrier and can arrive at any moment. But as our bodies grow older and we begin to realise that we aren’t going to be in this world forever and that sooner or later we will have to leave this realm, we need to consciously prepare ourselves for this momentous event in our life’s journey.
When we depart from this world, only our faith or level of God-consciousness and the stock of our deeds will accompany us. Given this, consciously preparing for this event requires that we focus now more on cultivating our inner life and on expressing it in the form of good deeds.
Here are some of the things we need to do to properly prepare for our death and for what comes beyond:
Giving greater attention to our relationship with our Creator, whom we are going to meet on our departure from this world and to whom we will have to give a complete account for how we have lived while here.
If we have hitherto left God out of our lives, we can begin to cultivate a personal relationship with God right now, before it is too late. No matter how busy we may like to think we are, we need to spend adequate time with God every day.
Seeking to improve ourselves.
We need to spend time reflecting on how we are as persons and make efforts to become better. We need to try to overcome our negative tendencies and strengthen our positive qualities. For instance, if we review our lives, we may recognise that impatience is one of our prominent negative traits and that because of this, we have hurt many people in the past. Based on this realisation, we can make conscious efforts to overcome impatience by cultivating patience.
Trying to make amends for the wrongs we have done and making up with others.
As we go through life we inevitably do things that we ought not to have. For instance, we hurt other people by unwise actions, words and thoughts. If we want to leave this world with a lighter conscience, we need to try to make amends for our wrongs. For instance, if we have been cruel to someone, we can apologise to them. If we have fought with a friend or relative and haven’t talked with them for years, we can reach out to them and patch up. If for some reason we aren’t able to contact them, we can acknowledge the wrong we have done before God and request God to forgive us and also to bless the person we have wronged.
Forgiving all those who we think have wronged us.
Many of us go through life revelling in hatred of people we think have wronged us. But if we want God to forgive us for our wrongs, we need to forgive people who have done us wrong, even if they themselves do not acknowledge their misdeeds and ask us for forgiveness. Forgiving others for what wrong they might have done to us is for our own good. Relieving us of the burden of resentment, it makes us lighter and happier.
Loosening our attachments to material possessions, none of which will accompany us when we die.
As long as we are in this world we need certain material things to survive. But often we accumulate things over the years that we do not really require. We can loosen our attachments to them and make our departure from this world easier. For instance, instead of clinging onto furniture or clothes we do not need, we can give them to someone who might. If our homes are littered with expensive artefacts more befitting a museum, we can sell them off and give the money to a good cause. If our finances are arranged in such a way that we get more than what we might need to lead a decent life, we can set apart a sum of money every month for worthwhile social causes. Or, if our children are economically well-off, we can will our property to a reliable charity instead of to our children. In ways like these we can give up our attachment to material things.
Since our stock of deeds is going to accompany us after we die, we must consciously focus on doing virtuous actions, on a day-to-day, or even moment-to-moment, basis.
Not all of us can do ‘social work’ on a ‘big’ scale. But all of us can definitely do little acts of kindness, and every day at that. It could be even something as supposedly small as smiling at someone who’s sad, helping a puppy cross a busy road, avoiding stepping on an ant or watering a plant. Why, even sitting in the comfort of our homes we can do a great amount of good by sending out thoughts of loving-kindness to all creatures, including even people we have hitherto thought of as our foes! There are always a great many good things each of us can do every single hour of the day!
Many people die without having consciously prepared for their death at all and for the life that comes after it. They may have never cared to cultivate a relationship with God; they may have revelled in nursing hatred for others; they may have made no effort to make amends for the wrongs they have done or to patch up with people they have fought with; they may not have loosened their attachment to things; they may have done little or no good to others. And so on. Surely, that is a terrible way to die.
Since death is inevitable it being the only thing about our future that we can be absolutely sure of we need to prepare for it consciously and wisely, through our relationship with our Creator, working on our own selves, trying to become better people, making amends for past wrongs, forgiving others and seeking forgiveness and engaging in acts of kindness.