Since it is inevitable that we are all going to leave these physical bodies, we might as well depart with dignity and peace of mind rather than in conflict, fear and turmoil. Many great beings of history have faced death with great dignity, courage and peace of mind. The moment of departure from the physical body also offers us a great opportunity for spiritual growth. It is a moment in which we have the greatest possibility of realizing our true spiritual nature. In the previous chapter we have discussed how we can begin to live and think in such a way, as to face death more consciously, peacefully and spiritually, without fear or conflict. In this chapter we will discuss some of the ways in which we can help others to make the same preparation, especially if they are close to death. It is obvious, however, that we will not be able to help others to make changes and transformations which we have not made ourselves. Working on ourselves will be a prerequisite to helping others.
A) WE LIVE IN A DEATH-DENYING SOCIETY
Probably no other person in the western world has studied the process of death and dying as much as Psychiatrist Elizabeth Kübler-Ross, who has worked with dying patients in hospitals all over the U.S.A. We might call her the first and foremost Western THANATOLOGIST. She has done much to educate the doctors and nurses in American hospitals concerning the proper approach to a dying patient. Her valuable observations and conclusions can be found in her three books, ON DEATH AND DYING, QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS ON DEATH AND DYING, and DEATH, THE FINAL STAGE OF GROWTH. Let us consider some of her findings:
1) We live in a «death-denying society». Neither the doctors, nor nurses, nor patients, nor relatives or friends are able to accept and face the fact of the mortality of the physical body. Thus we all try to ignore this reality.
2) As a result of her studies Psychiatrist Kübler-Ross has become convinced that there is life after death. She has openly declared in public lectures that for her, «It’s not a matter of belief or opinion. I know beyond a shadow of a doubt».
3) She has also spoken in public with equal conviction concerning her belief in the reality of reincarnation.
4) Everyone knows the time of his or her death (at least subconsciously); thus it is seldom useful to hold this information from a dying person.
5) We are usually not able to hear or accept it when someone very emotionally close to us is trying to tell us that he or she feels that death is close. We ignore their message and try to cover it up with pleasantries so that we do not have to face this extremely painful reality. Thus we miss a valuable opportunity to communicate deeply with our loved one on this subject which is now dominating his or her mind.
6) Most people who have died and, for some reason, have come back to life, did not want to come back, but would have preferred to stay in the after-death state which they found so much more pleasant than the incarnated state.
7) Those people who had these death experiences, no longer feared death after they returned.
8) Everyone who dies is met by a loved one who has proceeded before him into the life beyond. This loved one comes to guide and help the departing one through the transition into the out of body reality.
9) Dying does not have to be a lonely, isolated experience, but can be deeply shared with others, who are mature and conscious enough to be able to share a wonderful experience, as the liberation of an immortal spirit from its physical confinement.
10) The departure from the physical body is probably the most beautiful experience of this life.
11) There are unseen, loving spirit guides within two feet of us at all times, so we never need to feel alone, or without help or support.
12) In the next dimension after death, there are different concepts of space and time.
13) After death, no one judges us, but we judge ourselves.
In her vast study of hundreds, perhaps thousands of dying patients, who had to examine the value of their lives before dying, Kübler-Ross found two purposes, for living, to be predominant.
1) To be of service to others and not to live our lives satisfying only our own needs.
2) To learn to express love in all situations.
B) HELPING OTHERS TO LIVE UNTIL THEY DIE
Regarding the process of facilitating people close to death, Elizabeth has this to say:
«HELPING PATIENTS DOESN’T MEAN WE HELP THEM TO DIE, BUT THAT WE HELP THEM TO LIVE UNTIL THEY DIE».
«PEOPLE WHO HAVE LEARNED TO LIVE ARE NOT AFRAID TO DIE».
Let us consider some of the ways in which we can help the dying person to be more peaceful and happy during his last days, before he departs for apparently more beautiful places. (We do not want here to intimate that the earth too is not beautiful, or that it does not have the potential to become a really beautiful place, if we would work towards it. We are simply reporting the evidence given by those who have died and returned; that as beautiful as this reality might be, the out of body world is even more beautiful. Neither are we recommending suicide or euthanasia, for each of us is here to learn very specific lessons, and until we learn those lessons, we are not free to leave).
1) PRACTICAL CONSIDERATIONS
The first and most obvious help that we can give to a dying person is to help him to arrange his practical needs and comforts. If the patient is able to face his pending death, he will want to arrange the details of his last will and testament. Besides that, there will be matters of insurance, details of how the family will continue without his or her presence. There may also be a need to find someone to substitute him or her in professional responsibilities. The patient will be able to leave much more peacefully if he knows that his family and work responsibilities here on the earth will be covered in some way. A patient, however, may not be able to face discussing these matters, and thus one may not be able to help him. HE SHOULD NOT BE PUSHED. NO ONE SHOULD BE PUSHED BEYOND HIS OR HER OWN LIMITS IN FACING DEATH. Gradually, as the days pass, the inevitable will become more acceptable. We will discuss shortly the psychological stages a dying patient passes through, as he approaches his departure.
2) FULFILLING NEEDS AND COMFORTS
We may ask, «Is there any thing I can do for you or bring you, to make you more comfortable?» We are so often so overcome by depression with the fact that death is near, that we forget that the person is still alive and has the ability to enjoy life. He may want a book, or some special music, or a favorite food. He may want to have contact with an old friend or with some special person. He may want to see his priest. We may bring plants and peaceful music to his room. We may bring a musical instrument and sing together. He may want to see some slides, or a film or video which may be interesting to him. Any of these may or may not be interesting to the patient, depending on his psychological state. They should not be insensitively pushed onto a person who doesn’t show interest.
3) HELPING HIM TO RELAX
The various mental conflicts which permeate the mind of a person approaching death, often prevent him from being able to relax or even to sleep well. In addition there are often strong pains, or bodily difficulties, which increase muscular tension and prevent relaxation. The tension created by the pain in turn creates more pain, which in turn increases the tension in a vicious circle. In many hospitals today patients are taught how to overcome pain through deep relaxation and concentration. By systematic, conscious relaxation of the muscles, the pain can be lessened or even eliminated. The patient can also be taught to imagine healing energies and light penetrating the areas which are diseased, not functioning or painful, and begin to heal them or at least remove the pain with the power of the mind. Cassettes are available for helping patients learn such techniques. Another way to help the other to relax is with «comeditational breathing», which is a Buddhist technique, in which we breath with the other, guiding him to breath slowly as we make a sound AAAAAA on his exhalation. He also may make the sound AAAAA with you at first, until he tires and cannot continue. Then you can continue for him. You may also count his breaths on the exhalation, or say a pray or mantra for him on his exhalation. In this way you are connected through the process of breathing for about twenty minutes. This helps the patient to transcend pain and connect with deeper states of inner peace.
4) MASSAGE, STROKING AND LOVING CONTACT
For those who know how to massage, this can be a wonderful way to relax and remove the pain for the suffering patient. If the patient is seriously ill, then one should be sure that massage is not contraindicated. Often when massage pressure might be contraindicated on the suffering area, it may be possible to bring relief by doing reflexology massage on the bottom of the feet for the corresponding area which we want relieve. Again one should know what one is doing, if the patient is seriously ill, especially if there is any internal bleeding. If one doesn’t know how to give a massage, or feels that massage is not wise under the circumstances, (a doctor can be consulted), then equal benefit can be achieved by simply stroking the patient in a loving way on the arms, the legs, the head or any other part of the body which one intuitively feels would be comforting for the patient. Spiritual healing in which we place our hands on the person’s chest, abdomen or forehead and allow healing energies to pass through us from God to the patient is of invaluable benefit for healing, for relaxing and even for passing out of the body peacefully. Simply place your hands where your intuition guides you and pray to God that His energies and love pass through you into the other. Then let your be mind empty and allow the energy and peace to flow. If it is best not to touch the body at all, then we can do the same allowing our hands to pass to and fro about 2 to 5 inches from the body. It this way, we stroke and smooth out the energy body. This is sometimes called therapeutic touch and is used in many hospitals by nurses. It relieves pain and speeds healing. Simply holding hands or letting one’s hand rest gently on the patient’s body offers an opportunity for the transfer of love, energy and peace which the patient is greatly in need of. There is no greater healing energy than LOVE. Many people are in hospitals and mental clinics simply because they have not had enough LOVE and AFFECTION in their lives. Loving contact can also be established through words, or even through the eyes, In the last days less words are necessary and the patient may have his eyes closed more and more. In such times, our loving presence in the room is enough. We need not talk, nor necessarily make any kind of physical or verbal contact. We may sit silently and be peaceful and loving.
5) MEDITATION, PRAYER AND POSITIVE THOUGHT PROJECTION
As our friend, or loved one, begins to spend less time in the waking state and more and more in the sleep state, preparing for his departure, we can sit silently and focus our minds in meditation or prayer. We can bring our minds to a state of pure peace. Then, if we like, we may pray for the spirit who is about to be liberated. We may pray for a cure, or we may pray for safe guidance, or we may simply visualize our loved one surrounded by white light. As he is surrounded with this white healing light, we may visualize the Christ or some saint or angel coming to help him. That help, may enable him to get well and continue living some more years, or it may ensure that he will leave his body peacefully and proceed under the guidance of these beings of light, along the path of his spiritual evolution. It is best to leave this decision to God, for we do not always know what is best for the spirit. Our personal desires and needs make us believe that it is always best to live. But that spirit’s time may have come and it may be best for him to leave now. Our prayers for him to stay are often based on our own selfish needs and desires, and these prayers can prevent him from being able to leave. It is best to surround him with white light and pray to God to help him, and leave his fate (and ours) up to God. We may express our preference to God that he be healed, but then we must leave the final result to to His Infinite Wisdom. The purpose of life is not simply to live, it is to evolve. Death is a very important step in the process of evolution.
6) BE CHEERFUL, OPTIMISTIC, HAPPY
Our thoughts and feelings have a deep effect upon the people around us. This is even more true of the ill person who is more sensitive, open and easily affected by the various thoughts and feelings we bring with us into his room. Even if we do not express these thoughts and emotions verbally, the patient will perceive them. Psychiatrist Richard Alpert who attended a seminar by Elizabeth Kübler-Ross explains here how she brought this point across to an audience of medical professionals. She asked them:
«How would you feel if you came into a hospital room to visit a twenty-eight year old mother dying of cancer?» The answers called out from the audience included: angry, frustrated, pity, sadness, horror, confusion, etc. Then she asked us, «How would you feel if you were that twenty-eight year old mother and everyone who came to visit felt those feelings?» Suddenly it was apparent to all of us how we surrounded such a being with our reactions to death, and forget that there is a being just like us in that body, who needs to make straight contact with someone».
Thy dying or seriously ill patient has enough inner conflicts and problems of his own, without our adding our fears, depression and negative thinking. As much as possible we should try to strengthen our faith in some basic spiritual beliefs:
a) We are immortal spirits and only the physical body «dies».
b) The person who dies is perfectly well after death; much better than before death.
c) We too, are immortal spirits who have the strength to continue to live and even to be happy after our loved one leaves. We will certainly pass through some emotional pain due to the loss of this important person, but we will sooner or later get over it and continue our lives.Why not let it be sooner?
d) All earthly events are happening according to a DIVINE PLAN, and thus no spirit can leave its body, before its time has come.
e) Life is always giving us exactly what we need in order to grow spiritually, even if it might be unpleasant. The pending death of our loved ones (whether he eventually gets well or actually dies) is a spiritual opportunity to develop emotional, mental and spiritual maturity and strength. If we can remember these basic spiritual truths, then we will be able to be much more optimistic, cheerful and loving. We will have more love, energy and patience with which will help our loved one who is passing through such an internal crisis. We still have much more to offer in terms of emotional support, if we ourselves have overcome our negative emotions. We should, however, avoid false happiness, or empty smiles. We should not act out emotions which we do not truly have. If we connect with those spiritual truths, we will be naturally optimistic and peaceful.
7) STAYING AT HOME VS. STAYING IN A HOSPITAL
It seems rather obvious that if it is at all possible, a person would prefer to spend his last days in the peaceful loving environment of his home. Although hospitals offer the advantage of emergency medical help, they leave much to be desired in offering the patient the conditions he needs to die with dignity, self-respect, peace and love. Elizabeth Kübler-Ross, who worked daily in hospitals, firmly agrees. She makes the following comment about hospital environments:
«He may cry for rest, peace and dignity, but he will get infusions, transfusions, a heart machine, or tracheotomy if necessary, He may want one single person to stop for one single minute so that he can ask one single question – but he will get a dozen people around the clock, all busily preoccupied with his heart rate, pulse, electrocardiogram or pulmonary functions, his secretions or excretions but not with him as a human being. He may wish to fight it all, but it is going to be useless fight, since all this is done in the fight for his life, and if they can save his life they can consider the person afterwards. Those who consider the person first may lose precious time to save his life! At least this seems to be the rationale or justification behind all this – or is it? Is the reason for this increasingly mechanical, depersonalized approach our own defensiveness? Is this approach our own way to cope with, and repress, the anxieties that a terminally or critically ill patient evokes in us? Is our concentration on equipment, on blood pressure our desperate attempt to deny the impending death which is so frightening and discomforting to us that we displace all our knowledge onto machines, since they are less close to us than the suffering face of another human being which would remind us once more of our lack of omnipotence, our own limits and failures, and last but not least perhaps our own mortality?»
At home a dying patient can have his favorite meals which in many cases may give him the incentive to eat that which he needs in order to gain strength and perhaps get well. He will be surrounded with comfortable, friendly, warm and loving vibrations which will positively influence his state of mind and therefore his state of health. There will be less people walking in and out of his room, less noise and less disturbances all through the day. This, of course, may not be true of all home environments, some may not be conducive to health and peace of mind. Also, some illnesses just cannot be handled in a home environment, either because complicated instrumentation is necessary, or because there is just no one at home capable of tending to the patient’s needs. Regardless of these facts, most patients would most likely like to spend their last days in the familiar environment of their home, and leave with peace and dignity, rather than to become just another corpse in a mechanized hospital. In many cases, the length of life is not nearly so important as the quality of life. Each dying or seriously ill person and his family will have to decide these matters for themselves.
C) THE PSYCHOLOGICAL STAGES ONE EXPERIENCES AS HE FACES DEATH
According to Elizabeth Kübler-Ross there are five basic psychological states which an individual may pass through as he faces his death. It is not necessary that each person will pass through all these stages. Some of the earlier stages may be skipped, while some of the latter ones may not even be arrived at before the person departs. Some patients may experience more than one of these stages simultaneously. She also points out that all of us go through these stages when we experience the loss of anything important in our lives. For example we too, go through the same stages when we are about to lose a loved one, or any other loved object such as a house, a job, a car, or anything else which might be important to us.
1) STAGE I : DENIAL
The first reaction to the «bad news» is to deny its validity. The person is unable to accept this fact. The shock is too great and he or she protects himself or herself by denying it to be true. He may seek out other medical diagnosis in order to find someone who will verify his denial. A person in this state is perfectly capable of ignoring obvious facts and medical tests. He is able «not to believe» the most expert medical advice, and is not at all interested in discussing death, or any matters practical or spiritual, which may be related to it. This denial acts as a buffer which allows the individual to adjust inwardly so that eventually he can openly deal with this most unacceptable reality. This type of reaction usually appears in the early stages, when the patient has just been informed of the probable closeness to death. We use the word «probable» because no one can ever be sure that a person will die. Many people have been given one year to live, and have lived ten or twenty more years. Miracles do happen. This denial reaction occurs more frequently when the patient is informed by a doctor or someone not so closely related to the patient. The denial rarely continues until the end. Most patients manage to pass through it onto the other stages. The need for denial is sometimes dependent on the need for denial on the part of the patient’s relatives and friends. If they are not able to handle accepting the situation and facing it, he too is handicapped in his psychological progress. We must remember that all those who are extremely close to the denying patient will also be going through these stages. They are losing something they love and depend on, just as he is. What should our reaction be during the denial stage? We must allow the patient the freedom to continue with the denial stage as long as he needs to, in order to prepare for the next stages. We may, however, give occasional hints that we are able and ready to face the situation whenever he is. Without pushing him in any way, we can occasionally test his willingness to examine the possibilities of the reality of his impending death. We may also look for his hidden and subtle clues that he would like to talk about his feelings about losing all these people, things and situations which he loves and is attached to. Until the patient is able to open up to the reality of the situation, we can look for other ways in which to make him cheerful, such as bringing him interesting books, music or other activities. In some hospitals they have arts and crafts programs so that those who are able can use their time creatively making things.
2) STAGE II : ANGER
When the individual is no longer able to deny the possibility of his impending departure, he is often filled with a certain resentment, bitterness and feeling of injustice which may express itself as anger. He finds it completely unfair and unjust that he, who has tried so hard, who has conducted his life properly, who is still so young, who has not yet had a chance to enjoy the fruits of his efforts, who still has responsibilities to perform, must now suddenly so quickly leave all this behind, and proceed to the unknown world of death. He has worked so hard to create certain situations in his life; money, a house, car, projects, dreams of the future. And now all that seems to be disappearing from him as if he is waking up from a dream or perhaps entering a nightmare. He is disappointed, frustrated and angry with the world, with his doctors, with his family. He is angry with God, who could be so cruel as to allow this to happen. Many, in fact, lose their faith in God at this time. They cannot accept that if there was a just God he would allow such unjust things to happen. This is true not only of those who are about to die, but also of those who are losing or have lost a loved one. They become angry at God, and often doubt His existence, and the existence of a Divine Plan, that can allow such injustice to exist. But our vision is rather short-sighted and subjectively distorted. We are forgetting some basic spiritual realities.
a) The spirit continues after death and exists in an environment much more pleasant and rewarding than the earthly environment which it is leaving.
b) We, as spirits, have decided even before we entered into these bodies when we would be leaving them. It is our own past and present actions which determine our moment of death; not some mean and insensitive God sitting in Heaven.
c) Death is often a spiritual blessing both for he who is leaving and for those who are left behind. He who is leaving will be free of the spiritual blindness created by the physical body. Those who are left behind are being tested emotionally, mentally and spiritually as to how much faith and inner strength they have. They will grow stronger by now finding the inner security to replace the outer security they are losing as their loved one leaves them. The security or pleasure they once found through their loved one, they are now forced to find within themselves or in their relationship with God.
d) The Wisdom of the Divine Plan is seldom understood by the average mind. It must be accepted on faith. Gradually, as one evolves spiritually, and the blinding effect of material attachment decreases, the individual is able to see the beautiful wisdom of this incredibly intricate plan, which always gives us exactly what we need in order to grow spiritually. We will seldom see this truth when we are passing through these difficult tests, but years later we will realize the truth of the statement that, «A problem never comes to us without a gift in its hand». Regardless of these particular truths, the patient and his loved ones will find it difficult not to feel some moments of anger at the injustice of it all. This causes the patient to become rather aggressive and demanding, argumentative and seldom satisfied with whatever one may do for him. In a way he is saying, «I ‘m still here, I haven’t died yet. PAY ATTENTION TO ME». He may not say it in these words, but basically he wants ATTENTION. His anger is not about a particular issue or anything we might have done or not done. He is angry about his situation and simply needs a place to discharge his frustration. The most likely targets are his loved ones, and the doctors and nurses. How can we react to our loved one when he is in this state. The first thing we must do is to put ourselves into his position; to imagine that we are him and that we are about to lose all these things we have loved, dreamed of, and worked so hard for. Immediately our compassion and patience will increase. He needs attention, patience and love. We can simply listen to his negativity and perhaps even accusations without reacting. This may be enough. He may find release in just being able to express his complaint to someone. This, for us, will be a great spiritual opportunity to not identify with our egos, and not take anything which he might say personally. We can imagine that he is talking about someone else and thus not get ego involved. We may also practice active listening in which we try to deeply understand what our loved one is feeling. We continue to «feed back» to him what we believe we hear him saying in order to get reaffirmation from him that this is what he means. This kind of communication can often help the patient get a clear look at his feelings and work through them. Basically, in this stage, our loved one needs an opportunity to communicate with someone who is not emotionally involved, and who is patient, loving and compassionate.
3) STAGE III : BARGAINING
For most, the stage of anger gradually passes. At that point the dying person may enter into the bargaining stage. Here he tries to bargain in two basic ways.
a) He bargains with the doctors and loved ones in order to be allowed to have some last pleasurable and enjoyable experiences before his last days; even though these activities may be contraindicated by the therapy in process.
b) He may try to bargain with God for more time, for more life to fulfill his goals and desires before he finally has to leave. When our loved one is interested in enjoying some last activities before leaving the physical plane, we can try to do whatever is in our power to help him, as long as these activities do not seriously impair his chances to get well again. He may want to eat a favorite but now forbidden food, or go on a journey to a place he has always wished to see, or visit someone he loves dearly. We cannot underestimate the healing power of pleasant and happy experiences. Laughter and love are by far more healing than most drugs. The patient often has an inner wisdom as to what is good for him, and we should respect that. When the dying person is interested in seeking more time from God, we can use this excellent opportunity to help him develop greater contact with, and faith in, God. We can pray together with him each day. We can teach him how to relax his mind and concentrate it on imagining the divine healing light energy into his body and flowing to the organs which need healing. We can help him to visualize his chosen form of God, i.e. Jesus or the Mother Mary or one of the saints and to feel a closeness or union with them. We can read to him case histories of people who have cured themselves through faith in God or through positive mental projection techniques such as Mind Control. A cassette can be created which will guide the individual into deeply relaxed states and then guide his mind towards communication with God or positive mental visualization.
4) STAGE IV : DEPRESSION
If the bargaining doesn’t seem to be bringing results, the patient may soon enter into the stage of «depression» as he finally faces the fact that most probably will soon be leaving his body. According to Kübler-Ross there are two types of depression:
a) Reactory Depression which is based on not being able to perform functions or responsibilities. For example the patient may be depressed that he is not able to earn money for the family, or look after the children or the business or some other function. In response to this type of depression, our best action is to try to help to find practical solutions to these problems. We can try to find ways in which this person can fulfill these functions there in his bed in spite of his illness. This is sometimes the preferable solution because it allows the patient to feel useful and gives him more incentive to live. If it is not possible for him to continue fulfilling his responsibilities, then our next goal is to find a way in which they can be performed by someone else. Then at least the patient will be able to relax that his responsibilities will be cared for. This type of depression is based on a concern for the others and what will happen to them. The other kind of depression is based on the unpleasant feeling of losing everything and requires a different type of reaction.
b) Preparatory Depression is a natural type of unhappiness based on the fact that the patient is now experiencing many losses. He may have lost practically all his money on hospital and medical bills. He has lost his dignity, his job, and is about to lose his spouse, children, parents, relatives, friends, possessions and even his physical body. This depression is a preparatory stage in which he gradually faces these losses and learns to accept them. If he does not face them and experience the pain of separation from them, then he will never be able to enter the last stage of accepting what was previously unacceptable. In this stage he does not need to be «cheered-up» but rather allowed to face, experience and live his pain; so that he may eventually accept it. We may listen, nod our head, sympathize with his condition, and share his pain of separation from all that he has loved and depended on for his sense of security, happiness and meaningfulness in life. He will gradually pass through this preparatory depression and arrive to the stage of acceptance. In these latter stages, our presence and loving contact through meaningful glances and gentle strokes are much more important than superficial conversations.
5) STAGE V : ACCEPTANCE
After passing through the depression, the patient is tired. He is more relaxed and perhaps more weak, physically and mentally. His energies are not so much directed toward holding on to life any more but rather more towards making a smooth and peaceful departure. He begins to prepare himself, to detach himself from those around him. He wants less contact with people; first with those less close to him and gradually his circle of contact gets smaller and smaller. Towards the end he may choose only one or two very close loved ones as his only remaining contacts. His circle of interest diminishes on all levels. He is not so interested in the material world and what is going on in it any more. He feels more and more distant from all those happenings. He, in many cases, will begin to have experiences of the world to come. He may pass over in his dreams and experience the wonderful after-death states. He may be visited by spirit forms of loved ones who have passed away and are now coming to help him with the transition. He will prefer to sleep more and more or simply to stare off into space. He will not want to talk so much any more. At this time he needs more non-verbal communication. He may dose off to sleep, and we may sit there with our hand on his, or stroke his forehead, or simply sit silent enjoying the deep peace and serenity of a person who has entered this state. We may sit in meditation and visualize the white light surrounding him and protecting him. We may pray to God to help him, to guide him. When he opens his eyes, we are there with a smile, saying with our eyes, «I love you, I am with you, don’t worry about anything». If he wants to talk about his experiences it might be enjoyable for all concerned. He may have news from relatives who have passed on. These contacts will bring peace not only to the dying patient but also to us, who will have our faith bolstered by these spiritual contacts. Do not imagine that the person in coma is not aware of what is happening or being said in the room. He is most likely hovering in the energy body over the physical body completely aware of what is going on in the room and how each person is feeling. His consciousness is simply not connected with the physical body and with the conscious mind. When a person enters this last stage of «Acceptance», his room becomes a shrine filled with spiritual vibrations. Let us enter it with the respect and joy worthy of such an environment. Let us not fill the air with sorrow, crying, fear and attachment. Our loved one has accepted his departure and we should be happy that he will be experiencing blissful states of consciousness soon. Let us let go of our own fear and attachment and allow these last moments to be filled with peace, love and joy. The dying one will be able thus to leave much more comfortably. During the stage of acceptance those who are being left behind usually need more help than the one who is departing. Elizabeth Kübler-Ross gives an example of a woman who had faced her death and wanted to be able to die in peace, but was frustrated by her husband’s inability to accept the fact that she could actually want to leave him. First, Elizabeth reports her interview with the woman:
«She said that the only reason that kept her still alive was her husband’s inability to accept the fact that she had to die. She was angry at him for not facing it and for so desperately clinging on to something that she was willing and ready to give up. I translated to her that she wished to detach herself from this world and she nodded gratefully as I left her alone».
And then the interview with the husband:
«When I asked him about the patient’s needs rather than his own, he sat in silence. He slowly began to realize that he never listened to her needs but took it for granted that they were the same. He could not comprehend that a patient reaches a point when death comes as a great relief, and that patients die easier if they are allowed and helped to detach themselves slowly from all the meaningful relationships in their lives».
We have another case which comes from Dr. Moody’s files concerning an elderly lady close to death:
« I was with my elderly aunt during her last illness, which was very drawn out. I helped take care of her, and all that time everyone was praying for her to regain her health. She stopped breathing several times. but they brought her back. Finally, one day she looked at me and said, «Jean, I have been over there, over to the beyond, and it is beautiful over there. I want to stay, but I can’t as long as you keep praying for me to stay with you. Your prayers are holding me over here. Please don’t pray any more! We did all stop, and shortly after that she died».
Thus we can see that our own attachments can disturb the natural dying process in these last stages, when the individual himself has been able to make peace with the reality of his departure. We must be careful to avoid this if at all possible. Sometimes a complete stranger, who is sensitive and who has experienced in facing death with people, can be useful guide during these last moments. He cannot, of course replace the closest loved ones during these last moments. He can, however, offer a refreshing, concerned but unattached presence who is familiar with and unafraid of the emotions of facing death. I have had the opportunity to play this role a number of times in the past years and it has always been a beautiful and growing experience for me. I always learned much from those beautiful people with whom I shared their last days on earth. Some of you, who are reading this book, might find yourselves called upon at some time to play this role. You will be able to offer peace, clarity and comfort to the dying one and his loved ones. If you are called upon to play such a role in the future, and the individual involved is able and willing to openly face death, you may find some of the following points useful:
D) HELPING A PERSON TO FACE DEATH CONSCIOUSLY
At the beginning of this chapter we mentioned some general ways in which we can help a dying person regardless of whether he is able to face the reality of his death or not. Summarized, they are:
1) Seeing to his practical needs.
2) Helping him to fulfill his desires and making his environment comfortable.
3) Helping him to learn to relax.
4) Massage, stroking , spiritual healing, therapeutic touch and loving contact.
5) Meditation, prayer and positive projection in which we see him well.
6) To be as cheerful and optimistic as possible (but not falsely so).
If the person is psychologically able to consciously face his impending death and use it as a spiritual growth process, then we can proceed even further.
1) We can discuss any changes or practical considerations concerning his last will and testament.
2) We can discuss with him our beliefs about live and death. Let him express his beliefs first and express your own only if they are asked for. In discussing your beliefs, you may also refer to some of the reference material which is available concerning what happens after death. (this material has been presented in the first chapter). If the dying patient seems to be interested in hearing more, or investigating the subject more deeply, then you may bring him some books, or read to him if he is unable to read on his own. You may also bring him recorded lectures or recorded books on such subjects. A word of caution here. Be sure not to force or push a patient beyond his comfortable limit in facing these matters. As you are speaking, be very sensitive to his facial expressions, in deciding whether to continue or not. If he seems interested and relaxed by the conversation then continue, if not, then change the subject. It may also be meaningful to discuss views concerning the purpose of life, and why the spirit takes on this physical body. Needless to say such discussions are a spiritual blessing for all involved. In some cases we may not want to discuss ideas or concepts at all, but simply deal with the emotions we are both feeling. Both he, who is dying, and he, who is being left behind, will have a wide range of feelings. It may be a very healing experience for both to communicate deeply their feelings. The most important point is to be totally natural and sincere. Have no preconceived conceptions as you are going into the room of a «dying person», that you are going to discuss «this» or «that». Let everything flow from the heart, but simply do not be afraid to discuss any issue, and at the same time, do not be attached to discussing some particular issue. You are there to serve, allow the other to guide the flow of the conversation.
3) Another important factor in helping people face death is to help them to face the various relationship problems they might have. Help them to discover where they are holding resentment or bitterness towards anyone. Help them forgive these people and let go of their negative feelings. If they are unable to let go of these feelings, help them to express them first and then let go of them when they are ready. They might like to write a letter to someone with whom they have some repressed message to express. If they are unable to face the other person, then they can work on harmonizing the relationship mentally. They can visualize the person and let go of their negative feelings toward that person and send light and love to that person, wishing him to be well. Such an activity is worthwhile whether or not we are facing death. It opens up a whole new flow of life energy and love in us which was blocked by those negative feelings.
4) We can help the dying patient consciously to let go of this attachments. This can be done through discussion of the various attachments and the realization that one really can continue to exist without them. Often simply by openly discussing one’s fears and attachments, they are gradually surpassed. One can be encouraged to concentrate more on God or his inner immortal self for this sense of security; thus enabling him to let go of other attachments.
5) Through guided deep relaxation and hypnotism the individual can be helped to develop a greater contact with his inner self and with God. He may also be guided into simulated after-death states, in which he experiences himself free from his physical body. Thus he may gradually experience himself as a spiritual being and not simply as a body.
6) He may want to participate in the sacraments of Confession and Holy Communion from a clergyman of his religion. If not, he may want to have a confessional type of talk in which he can unload his heart of some of his regrets and doubts.
In general, the individual must be helped to experience himself more as an immortal spiritual being who is about to undergo a transition in focus of consciousness. He must increase his contact with his inner self and gradually become free from the attachments and relationships which bind him to the physical world which he must now leave. This is a similar process to arranging affairs to move to another country. We must close up our homes and dispose of whatever we cannot take with us. At the same time we will want to have as much information as possible about what to expect in this new place we are going to live in. How wonderful it would be if in the future, we could all face death with dignity, clarity, peace, joy and spiritual awareness. Centers have been created in the U.S.A. and Europe where people can spend their last days consciously using them as an opportunity for personal growth and spiritual development. These centers offer a wonderful opportunity both for those who are dying and those who work there. Perhaps death in the future will be somewhat as Alice Bailey describes it here: «All I plead in a sane approach to death; all I seek to make is a suggestion that when pain has worn itself out and weakness has supervened, the dying person be permitted to prepare himself, even if apparently unconscious, for the great transitionΖ Is it impossible to conceive of a time when the act of dying will be a triumphant finale to life? Is is impossible to vision the time when the hours on the death bed may be but a glorious prelude to a conscious exit? When the fact that the man is to discard the handicap of the physical sheath may be for him and those around him the long-awaited for and joyous consummation? Can you not visualize the time when, instead of tears and fears and refusal to recognize the inevitable, the dying person and his friends would mutually agree on the hour, and that nothing but happiness would characterize the passing?Ζ I tell you that before so very long, this will be deeply so for the intelligent of the race and little by little for all».
E) GUIDING THE SPIRIT ONCE IT HAS LEFT THE PHYSICAL BODY
We have mentioned in the earlier chapters that the spirit is able to hear and see what is going on here on the earth plane, even after its departure from the physical body. We have also mentioned that the spirit may be a little disorientated during the first days as it has to reorient itself to a new set of laws and conditions which it finds in the after-death state. There will, of course, be spirit guides who will help the spirit in this process of transition. We can also help out by communicating certain guidance to spirit during the various stages of his after-death existence. The rate at which the spirit will pass through the various after-death existences will vary from spirit to spirit. Also, the experiences he will have will vary according to the contents of the mind he has taken with him upon leaving the body. There are some general guidelines which we can follow in our communication with the spirits in those moments, after death. The following information is taken from the Tibetan Book of the Dead
THE FIRST 20 MINUTES TO 4 HOURS
The first moments after the spirit leaves the physical body represent a great opportunity for it to evolve spiritually, if it is able to keep his mind positively oriented. For the first twenty minutes it is considered that the spirit will be facing the PURE LIGHT, which is so overpoweringly brilliant, that the spirit avoids to look directly at it. During these moments the spirit can be guided verbally or non-verbally not to fear the White Light and to face it and merge with it. This Pure Light can be considered to be the Christ Light in Christian terms. Many of Moody’s cases saw this brilliant light and were amazed by it. The individual should be encouraged to merge with it. After the first twenty minutes the individual can be guided in three ways according to his nature and state of evolution:
1) If he was a person who has done much meditation and had worked on controlling the mind, we explain to him that whatever he is seeing is simply a reflection of his own pure consciousness. The Pure White Light is in reality his own pure consciousness, he should merge with it.
2) If the person was a religious person who worshiped a particular form of God, then we can guide him to create a mental image of that form before him now and feel the blessing of that divine being. We can then guide him to merge with his chosen deity.
3) If the person has no particular deity which he worshiped, then he can be guided to meditate on the Great Compassionate Lord in whatever way that he can. He is guided to bring to his mind some concept of God; however, God may appear for that spirit.
AFTER 4 HOURS AND FOR THE NEXT THREE TO FOUR DAYS
The opportunity of using the Pure White Light for liberation has passed and if the spirit has not succeeded, (something which we cannot really know), it will go on to other experiences. In the case of the advanced spirits, we remind it over and over that whatever it is experiencing is simply the contents of their minds. That what it is seeing are its own thought forms taking shape before it. We encourage the spirit to have no fear of anything that it sees, neither to be attracted to anything that it may see, but rather to simply watch it all like a movie. Those who have had religious inclinations during their earth years are encouraged to concentrate on and pray to their deity. We may even imagine the departed spirit to be in the presence and protection of the Christ or the Holy Mother. For those who have had no spiritual inclinations we can encourage them to listen to the advise of the spirit guides who have come to help them with the transition.
AS THE DAYS PASS
There is no time, in the dimension in which the spirit now exists, and thus it is difficult to talk about the beginning and ending of after-death stages. An advanced spirit may immediately leave the earth plane and need no guidance at all. Another spirit, who was very attached to the earth plane, may hang around for years and need much guidance and advice from both dimensions in order to let go and continue with his evolution. There is some general advice which can be given to spirits, however, after the fourth day. We can communicate the following to them verbally or mentally.
1) Death comes to all; it is nothing unusual. It is a perfectly normal state.
2) There is no sense in clinging to earthly life out of attachment or weakness.
3) You have no power to remain even if you want to.
4) If you try to remain, you will just get lost in endless futile searching.
5) Remember and focus on God.
6) Do not fear anything that you see.
7) Everything that you see are reflections of your own mind.
8) Those images you see are simply the nature of the experience you are passing through. They are not permanent; they will not last. (Regardless of whether they are pleasant or unpleasant).
9) Do not be afraid of any strong lights or sounds. They are simply the creations of your own mind, just observe them.
10) Since you now exist in your thought-body and do not have a physical body, you are incapable of being harmed or dying.
11) Do not be disturbed by anything which is happening here on the earth. Be detached from everything and feel only love for all beings.
12) Use your ability to pray and meditate in your new environment and concentrate to God and Love.
We may see our loved one flowing upward in the guidance of angels moving towards the Christ. We may see our loved one surrounded by white light moving upwards continuing with his spiritual evolution. And then, in order that the spirit may freely ascend, we must let go of our attachment to it and our sorrow, and learn to live in joy and love.