It is not always possible to cure the diseases of the body, but healing from the soul level is possible. Most of the people who sit with someone actively dying feel the experience as a very spiritual one. It is a reminder of their limited mortality. How we choose to see the death experience can make it a gift or something to be feared. When you see someone dying, be there with them. Encourage honesty, stay clear and as conscious as possible as someone nears death. Be compassionate and as calm as you can be. The moment the soul exits the body there is a shift in energy in the room that is almost palpable.
The whole focus of end-of-life care is to provide ways for the dying person to experience as much peace as possible in the transition to whatever is next. We all need companionship, respect, and death with dignity– not defined by the resources offered to us but by the humanity offered to us.
The physical aspect of death is the simplest to explain as the dying person will experience a physical lack of energy and withdraw from others. There is a complete loss of appetite. The body simply cannot handle food. As death approaches the dying person may refer to others in the room. The dying person often chooses the actual moment of death. It is not uncommon for someone to die when loved ones are out of the room.
In my book, Soul Service: A Hospice Guide to the Emotional and Spiritual Care for theDying (Balboa Press, 2013) www.soulservice.info the dying people I interviewed all spoke of their approaching death with a deeper level of spirituality and connection to the higher power. They used prayer and meditation to bring a sense of peace and comfort to themselves. All those interviewed were very accepting of their upcoming transition and felt an intense gratitude for their lives as well as the people around them. They were much more in touch with their spiritual selves and identified less with the physical body.
The gift of a death where it is expected is that there is time to prepare. Saying good-bye to loved ones, practicing forgiveness and having emotionally healing experiences with others can be a positive blessing for all concerned. In his book Polishing the Mirror: How to Live from your Spiritual Heart, author Ram Dass present a list of some of the ways we can approach our own deaths more consciously:
~ Live your life consciously and fully. Learn to identify and be present in your soul, not your ego.
~ Fill your heart with love. Turn your mind towards God.
~ Continue with all your spiritual practices: prayer, meditation, mantra, all forms of devotion.
~ Be there for the death of your parents, loved ones or beloved animals. Know that the presence of your loved ones will remain when you are quiet and bring them into your consciousness.
~ Read about the deaths of great yogis, saints and lamas.
~ If there is pain at the time of death, try to remain as conscious as possible. Medication can ease pain but dulls awareness.
~To be peaceful at the time of death, seek peace inside today. Death is another moment, if you are not peaceful today, you probably won’t be peaceful tomorrow.
It is helpful to find meaning and define the purpose of our lives. Do a life review. If you could give a loved one a single gift before death, a life review would be one of the greatest you could give. Recall the lessons, the moments of joy and laughter. As Socrates said, “The unexamined life is not worth living.” Take that opportunity now, you will not regret it.
Christine Cowgill, MS, CRC is the Author of Soul Service: A Hospice Guide to the Emotional and Spiritual Care for the Dying (Balboa Press, 2013) www.soulservice.info .Christine is a certified rehabilitation counselor with over ten years of experience in medical and vocational case management. She is also a licensed life and health insurance agent. Visit Christine Cowgill’s Amazon author’s page for further information. Christine has a Facebook page offering tips for caregivers at