Saturday, October 29, 2011

6 Teachings on How to Be With the Dying

Ayya Khema's biography has been my late night companion for the last few weeks. Such an inspiring life, and so many wise teachings interspersed throughout. I especially appreciate her advice on how to relate to the dying:

1. When a person is dying, we should recall to him all his good deeds, so that he can die with a peaceful and happy mind. That is very important, for it very often occurs that on their deathbeds people are suddenly afflicted with regret and remorse, because they think they have done one thing or the other wrong. If you, as a doctor or a nurse, do not know a dying person very well, you should get information from his family so you can help him.

2. We should get in physical contact - hold hands with the dying person or stroke him, so he does not get the feeling he has been abandoned.

3. The sense of hearing is the last sense to go. Therefore we should not think that a person who seems to be lying there unconscious is not hearing anything. In his presence, only those things should be said that he should hear.

4. We can say to the person that we are all going to die. The body is not the most important thing. The mind and consciousness of the good and true are much more important. 

5. [We should not shy away from relieving or eliminating physical pain.] Consciousness is also present even when a dying person cannot answer or respond in the usual way. It is completely wrong to give a person over to pain - this only fills the person's mind with negativity and discord.

6. One should die at home in a good, familiar environment. One's dear ones should be present and know that they have to give the dying person permission to die. It is important to say to him or her: "Yes, we will miss you, but we're all completely okay, we're are just fine. We love you, but we can go on living." We should not try to hold on, since that makes dying more difficult.

6 great teachings for us to remember when the moment comes to midwife another person into dying. 


  1. Solid truths with great value...

  2. Yes, she has a way of spelling out deep truths in simple terms.

  3. Thank you for sharing!

    Your blog has for sometime now been my destination for meaningful, compassionate, mindful actions.

    As an EMT (in training)this advice you shared is invaluable. It also confirms the compassionate values which lay buried beneath our modern-day suits of detachment from other people.


  4. Thank you Matt. I am glad you find it helpful.

    Thanks also for the work you do. You are in the first line of response to acute suffering. That is quite something!