Dying well

I received this handout several months ago and wished I’d seen it 35 years ago. I was especially impressed with the application of Christ last words to our preparations.

                 MEMORIAL PLANNER, prepared by Pastor Robert Jacobson.



Phone #:__________________________________

Email Address: __________________________

Next of Kin: ______________________________

     (Name)                                           (Contact No.)

Death is a hard topic to think about, especially our own death. However, for those of us who have trusted our lives to Christ, we know that we will be raised with Christ.  Death is a defeated foe.  As Christians we recognize that our lives are meant to give glory to Godour deaths can give him glory as well.  To that end,as your pastor I wanted to put together this planner to help you and your family.  As a pastor who has walked with several families through this journey,I’ve observed strong emotions, guilt and arguments among family members regarding the wishes of their loved ones.  In an ideal situation all of one’s plans and hopes would be communicated face-to-face with the whole family ahead of time, but I know sometimes those discussions just don’t take place.  

My hope is that this tool can serve you and your family well. Last but not least…if you have children, my encouragement would be to make sure they know about your will, that they understand who is getting what, how assets will be divided, if there are any legacy gifts you are leaving to the church, and so on.  So often these are areas that can bring about conflict after the passing of a loved one. It’s much better (even though it might be hard) to talk to them about it ahead of time.

Have you thought about the pros and cons concerning burial and cremation?  Historically, Jews and Christians have preferred burial over cremation.  If you’d like to talk about it, Iwould gladly discuss this with you. 

Some Practical Questions to Work Through:

Where you would like to be buried?_

Would you like a graveside service in addition to the memorial?_

Where would you like your memorial service to be held? 

Who would you like to preside (preach) at your service?

Is there a favorite passage you would like to have read & why?

Are there certain songs you’d like to have sung?

1.  _____________________________________________

2.  _____________________________________________

3.  _____________________________________________

My Favorite Hymn & why:___________________________

Anyone special you would like to have do a eulogy?

Do you have names that you would like to suggest as pallbearers? If so, list them here:

Would you like flowers at your funeral, or in lieu of flowers is there a ministry or organization you’d like to give to (i.e., the church, missions organization, etc.)?

Other Possible Instructions:

Casket: ___________________________

Should the casket be open for viewing?  0  Yes   0  No


Other Instructions:                                             




I have completed this guide and made arrangements for the express purpose of relieving you, insofar as possible,of the emotional and financial burden with which most of us are so unfamiliar.

Signed:  ___________________Dated:  ________________


Some Life Questions to Work Through:

I was reading through an encounter that Pastor Darryl Bodie had with a member of his congregation38-year-old mother of four, who was hooked up to a ventilator. She knew she only had a few days to live, and she asked her pastor, “How do I die well?”  Dr. Bodie had been preparing for a message on the last words of Christ,and he found that they served as a helpful template in thinking through one’s own death.*

First word: “Father forgive them, for they know not what they do.” (Luke 23:34)   Ask yourself if thereare people in your life that you need to forgive.  Will you let them know? Is reconciliation possible?   Remember the words of the Lord’s prayer:Forgive us our trespasses AS WE FORGIVE those who trespass against us.”

Second word:“Truly I say to you, today you will be with me in paradise.” (Luke 23:43) Is there someone in your life you need to talk to about salvation?

Third word: “Woman behold your son! … John behold your mother.”  (John 19:26-27)  Jesus,whose responsibility it was to care for his mother, was no longer going to be able to care for her as a son…so he passed on that responsibility. Are there people in your life who you need to make provision for before you depart?  If there are, and you don’t have the resources, bring them before the Lord in prayer, and ask God to provide all they need according to his riches in glory.

Fourth word:“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:46) If you have turned from your sin, and to Christ in faith (repenting and believing), if you have entrusted your life to Jesus, the Son of God, as the one who came to live the life you could not live, and die the death your deserve, who came to be a sacrifice that would reconcile you to God, and rose from the dead, then you can have confidence that because Jesus suffered for you, you will never be forsaken by God. You need not be afraid.  That said, if you are fearful, if you have doubts about your faith, call your pastor and share those with him and talk to him about them.

Fifth word:“I thirst.” (John 19:28) As you have physical needs, cry out for help, and allow those surrounding you to minster to you. 

Sixth word: “It is finished.” (John 19:30) You can rest in the finished work of Jesus Christ, knowing that the eternal life you have been given in Him, is about to be realized at a much deeper level.  

Seventh word:“Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.” (Luke 23:46) The same heavenly Father who received our Lord Jesus Christ, will receive you into his hands, because you are united with Christ by faith. This reality is a greater treasure than all the riches of the world or all the comforts of this earth…you are His, and He is yours.  Rejoice.

*from the “Pastor’s Bible” ESV, Crossway, 2018

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