Death can be a fearful time, because we are leaving behind our bodies and everything else that we know. But it can also be a time of opportunity. Even though pain and fear may be part of death, dying can also be a period of great opening and peace, and even enlightenment.
Buddhists believe that death and dying are ripe with possibility. The bardo, as Tibetan Buddhists call the transition between life and death, is a highly charged time when we greatly need healing. For the dying and dead, healing meditation can be very helpful.
Actually, there are a number of bardos, or transitional states. Life itself can be seen as a bardo, since it is the transition between birth and death. The best preparation for the great bardo of dying is to develop a peaceful mind in this life. Then, when the body dissolves at death, we will be ready.
If we have cultivated positive and peaceful habits of mind while we are alive, then we will take these habits or cyclic causations (karma) into death and any future life to which we may be born. Even for those who are not Buddhists or do not believe in reincarnation, developing a peaceful mind in this life can make death easier and more peaceful. At the time of death, when our minds are vulnerable and open, meditation and prayer can help us tremendously.