Friends General Conference

Together we nurture the spiritual vitality of Friends

Aging, Death, and Dying

Image credit: Suzy Hazelwood
Overview: 

Growing old, even when that means facing physical or other changes, can help us focus on what is essential.

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For Facilitators: 

Successful facilitation creates opportunities for everyone to share and moves the group toward deep connection. Use these resources to learn more about leading a group through meetings for spiritual deepening.

Find course guides, videos, and other resources to plan your group's journey, create an inclusive space, and manage your time together.

Access resources for facilitators here.

Aging, Death, and Dying Exercises

e.g. for an hour and a half, enter "90"

Grounding

My mom died of cancer when I was 12, which lit the spark for my 40‐year career as a children’s oncologist. The culture in 1950s’ Britain was to avoid discussing death, especially around children. I wasn’t told of her passing until three days later, on a brief excursion home from my boarding school. Twenty‐five years later, I immigrated to America and by chance was introduced to Quakers in Columbus, Ohio. It was a troubling time in my life.

Growing old, even when that means facing physical or other changes, can help us focus on what is essential.

Ground your work in scripture.

Quaker faith and practice can be compared and combined with a wide variety of other traditions such as Buddhism or ethical humanism. But we will find our deepest and fullest reasonaces with the biblical Christian traditions that nurtured early Friends and with the Jewish traditions that nurtured Jesus.

What do Friends have to say about aging, dying, and death?

Explore your thinking on aging, death and dying with these queries and questions for reflection. Many exercises can be followed with a discussion or worship share with these queries. 

Many Friends have made videos and podcasts to reach out to people around the world. From informational histories, to instructional guides, to deep ministry, we can use this medium to learn more and build community.

Preparing for death can be difficult to think about and talk about. But it can also be a deeply spiritual process, through which all involved grow closer, to the Spirit and to one another. 

What is a Quaker memorial service? How can loved ones and the meeting prepare? Illinois Yearly Meeting offers this way forward.

45 minutes | High School and Up | Newcomer Friendly

Friends might also be surprised to learn that there are practices for caring for one’s body after death that may be more aligned with our belief in right Stewardship of the Environment than the more common burial practices of today.

Practicing

Examine your motivation each day with this daily spiritual practice. 

15 minutes | Middle School and Up | Newcomer Friendly

Recent research suggests regular meditation practice boosts mental flexibility and focus, offering powerful protection against cognitive decline.

30 minutes | All Ages | Newcomer Friendly

As you practice yoga and become mindful of not just your body, but also of your thoughts and emotions, you will become more connected to and mindful of your environment, your community, and the world around you.

45 minutes | Adults | Newcomer Friendly

Practical steps for transforming physical pain into spiritual growth.

30 minutes | High School and Up | Newcomer Friendly

How do we become pilgrims?  How do we understand living in our Last Third as the most important pilgrimage of our lives?

30 minutes | Adults | Newcomer Friendly

Credits

Development of the Aging, Death, and Dying materials in the Spiritual Deepening Library was made possible through the generous support of the Friends Foundation for the Aging. Content collaborators include George Schaffer (PhYM), Sue Regen (BYM), Nancy Rosenberger (PhYM), Lori Sinitzky (PhYM and FGC), and ARCH of NYYM. Sally Farneth (PhYM), Susan Hopkins (PacYM) contributed content for the materials for children.