A Place of Beauty and Peace

by Stacy Smith

Then Moses, the servant of the Lord, died there in the land of Moab, at the Lord’s command. – Deuteronomy 34:5

Moses does a number of things to prepare for his death: he appoints Joshua as the next leader of the Israelites, he declares how they should remember the Lord during the festival of booths, he writes a song based on God’s word and teaches it to all the Israelites, he instructs the people about God’s judgment and mercy, he goes to a place of beauty and importance, he blesses his friends and his family, offers his last words of wisdom, and then dies. After his death, he is buried and mourned by the community, and their new leader, Joshua, succeeds “because Moses had laid his hands on him.”

We might all wish for a death like Moses’ in which we spend our last moments in a place of beauty and peace, surrounded by loved ones at the end of a long, eventful life. For some of us this will be the case, and for some it will not. Yet there are lessons that all of us can learn from Moses’ example in his own death. Before his death, Moses assembled his affairs, appointed a leader, wrote his wishes and presented them to the people. These are all things that we can do even now to create the environment for a good death. Like Moses, we can begin to prepare ourselves for death through open communication and study. We can appoint a leader, a trusted health care proxy who can make difficult decisions if we cannot. We can write our wishes through an advanced directive or will, and we can present them to the people by making sure that family members have access to the necessary documents and by fostering an open, supportive conversation about death.

While we cannot be assured of how our death will occur, in the example of Moses, we see someone who addressed his own death with wisdom and ensured that the future generations were knowledgeable and prepared.

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