The Five Remembrances exercise : My Living Will

Friends attended “Protecting & Transforming” retreat were invited to practice the Five Remembrances * together by sharing their experience with another retreatant. After the sharing, each friend was encouraged to write a living will letter to their beloved. This is an act of love to themselves and especially, to their beloved ones. Impermanence is a part of life and we don’t know what tomorrow will bring.

We’d like to share with you Keith’s living will letter to his wife.

Keith’s living will letter to his wife

If my heart were to stop and cease in my chest

Please honor the direction in this request.

No tubes or machines should start it to beating.

And no vessels down my throat if my brain decides my body is done eating.

No lungs made of plastic to fill me with air.

And nothing shoved up my nose that wasn’t  already there.

Though I came in this world surely with a kick and a scream,

I prefer to leave floating, as if in a dream

I know that you love me and will come to understand,

That for me to embrace the end,

I really just need your hand


* The Five Remembrances

I am of the nature to grow old. There is no way to escape growing old.

I am of the nature to have ill health. There is no way to escape ill health.

I am of the nature to die. There is no way to escape death.

All that is dear to me and everyone I love are of the nature to change. There is no way to escape being separated from them.

My actions are my only true belongings. I cannot escape the consequences of my actions. My actions are the ground upon which I stand.

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