In 1988 my mother died. It was a five week hospital death. I was with her much of that time.
These are some of the things that I learned.
1. Ask the dying person quesitons and wait for verbal/nonverbal responses, i.e. " Should we stop this medicine?
What do you need? " (I didn't always ask my mother's opinion and now wish thst I had.)
2. LISTEN. LISTEN. LISTEN.
3. See if they have unfinished business that they want to work with, i.e. unexpressed thoughts, feelings
wishes, etc. ( My mother said, "I wish I had written a book,' knowing that U would hear her and do it for her.
4. If they prefer, let them leave consciously, alertly, with awareness. ( Because one medicine was
stopped, she became comotose. I didn't know that would happen and missed saying goodbye because of that.)
5. If they agree, play nature tapes in the hospital room. It creates a no panic atmosphere. ( I played one
and the nurses used to come in the room because it felt, "good in here.")
6 .Help the way they need to be helped, not the way you need. ( ONce I was chanting, praying, laying my hands
on her abdomenm teaching her to breathe and my mother, always the comedienne, opened her dying eyes,
looked at me with an Imogene Coco look and said, " Linda, PLEASE!")
7. Confess by their bedside. (Clear your heart but do it telepathically. Tell everything you need to tell. Do
unfinished business without their hearing. Sotto voce.)
8. If the person is on heavy pain meds, they might change their behavior toward you, positively or
negatively. Be ready! ( My mother became a hippie on morphine. She pulled me close to her, tried
to show me my aura, touched the peach fuzz on my hceeks. We re-bonded.)
9. Get counseling yourself from either friends, 24 hour telephone hotlines, Hospice volunteers, etc.
I talked with a Hospice volunteer for 4 years on the phone while my mother was dying. ( Hurray
for Hospice! )
10. Know what patients rights means and use the information appropirately. ( I asked on nurse
" If this were your mother would you allow a nurse to take blood and do "vitals" while
your mother was comatose and had only a little time left? The nurse said, " No." I said, "Then
please do not take blood and stop all orders at the desk.")
11. Be prepared for each family member and close friend of the dying person to take a
completely different response to everything. Emotions are close to the surface; everyone's
death anxiety button is being pushed.
12. Use TV, VCR's, Cd's, DVD's as teaching toolds. ( When my mother wanted TV on I turned to
cartoons. The flying image from MY LITTLE PONY did wonders for her attitude and actually
distracted her from her pain.
13. Inconspicuously breathe together. ( Match your breathing pattern to theirs.) Gently sound
the exhalation. ( Steven levine teaches this technique. It's Tibetan and comforting for
both the patient and caregiver.
14. Whisper messages near an ear. Keep messages positive and in words they need to hear.
(When I said, " Relax Ma, Mitchell and Karl will take good care of you," she responded positively
because these were friends who were dead and whose company she loved.
15. Go as far as you can with the process in the end. ( Those last 15 hours she was comatose, I felt
a need to meditate, give her space, not touch her as much. Check out yoru own situation, it will be different.
16. After the death, participate in the process as much as you can given place, circumstances etc.
Help wash the body, close the eyes, etc. ( I didn't see the spirit or soul leave. Some people do.)
17. Never , ever judge how you or anyone else mourns or deals wiht death.
(I demolished and rebuilt an abandoned building for two years after she died. I told Ma, "I don't know
how to cry but I know how to sweat."
18. Be watchful for messages, dreams, synbolic visits. (She comes as a butterfly or sometimes as a wave of
feeling. I continue a dialogue with her. )
19. Daily, prepare for your death in your own way.
20. Your comments: