By Chandra/Jo Sgammato 

“Death Prep”– Harsh Words Maybe, But Something We All Must Do

I am a planner. I like to have things in order, to sweat the details of any event in advance, to be a person who makes sure, takes care, and gets things done. But for planning the one event that will happen without a doubt—my death—I haven’t done a thing. And now that I’ve turned 70, this is one set of plans that can no longer be avoided. In fact, now I wish I’d taken care of it sooner. 

An “End-of-Life” Project Woke Me Up

I had an aha moment and a sense of relief when longtime Integral Yoga instructor Karuna Kreps created the Integral Yoga End-of-Life project. I knew right away that this was the push I’d been waiting for, as they say, “to get my affairs in order.”

Advice and guidance grounded in the Integral Yoga teachings that have so enhanced my life, would make it easeful, peaceful, and useful to prepare to depart the Yogic way.

Facing death did not frighten me. We are all going to die. Yet to die with grace and with some understanding of death’s meaning is worth the effort of exploration. Having expert guidance from teachers I trust is a gift.

Who Am I When the Body Dies?

Spiritual practices like Yoga and meditation, along with all religions and philosophies, exist to help us understand the meaning of life. They can also offer insights into what happens after we leave the body, as the Yogis describe death. What is the nature of existence? What is the meaning of impermanence? Is there really a cosmic consciousness to which all of us return?

Then there is the body itself. The physical process of dying is another mystery to me, one I would like to understand in order to quell fears and encourage acceptance of mortality.

Don’t Be a Burden to Family and Friends

Beyond my personal coming to terms with my demise, it seemed the ultimate irresponsible act to die without making these plans. Why leave it to family and friends to figure out what I might want and to make decisions I should have made?

The practical matters of disposing of my worldly possessions and money are easily made clear by a will. Assigning a person to decide when to “pull the plug” in the event I cannot decide for myself is a matter of filling out a form. And planning my own funeral and burial or cremation will be a gift to those who remain after I go.

I’m Feeling More Peaceful Already!

Part of my legacy, beyond leaving money and my home to my loved ones and to nonprofits whose mission I support, will be that I did not make my death harder for those whose love and friendship I am fortunate to have. They can remember me for the story of my life, not the story of my death.

Chandra/Jo Sgammato served for more than 20 years on staff at the Integral Yoga Institute of New York.

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