Having talked last week about how it feels to die, let’s consider now the experience of being at the bedside of someone you love who is about to embark on that universal journey. Of course, some deaths are going to feel tragic. People who die unexpectedly or out of generational order are likely to distress their loved ones by the very act of dying. Life can hold so much pain! Please know, though, that the afterlife evidence overwhelmingly indicates that:
1) Virtually all deaths are planned. We plan our lives before we are born in conjunction with our spirit guides and with those who will be important in this lifetime and their guides, and as part of that process we plan in two or three exit-points that our higher consciousness can choose to take once we have done as much as we can do in terms of learning and growing in this lifetime. There is a lot of evidence that even what seem to be accidental deaths are planned exit points. Death is almost never a real accident.
2) Dying is a pleasant and joyous experience. Of course, as I admit in my previous blog post, getting to the point of death can be rough, but the death process itself is gentle and enjoyable. If a body seems to be dying in pain, there is plentiful evidence that the mind is already happily out of that body and doesn’t feel its pain. All really is well! So even though it is difficult to be losing a loved one, don’t worry about the person who is dying.
3) Nobody ever dies anyway! Our minds are part of eternal mind. We never began and we never will end, so the death of the body makes amazingly little difference to the person going through the experience.
Even knowing all of this, it still can be difficult to attend a death. It can help for you to know how death feels to the person dying, so please read my previous blog post on that topic. And here are some additional points to keep in mind as you sit beside the bed:
1) Death is highly individual. It is impossible to generalize about any aspect of the process of dying because each of us handles it differently, and above all we want to be in control. No matter how the death may be affecting you, this is a major event for your loved one, so it is important to let him or her take the lead.
2) Some of the dying want to talk, but some don’t. Your task is to listen, to answer questions, to offer love and comfort. I have found that sometimes reading psalms or poetry is welcome. Dying folks often stop communicating with the living once their deathbed visitors arrive, so as death approaches you may find that your reading or speaking isn’t wanted anymore. Instead, you might begin to observe what seems to be half of a telepathic conversation.
3) There usually is a period of lucidity a day or so before the death event. When a person near death suddenly seems to improve, to be more lucid and have more bodily strength, then that is a sign that death can be expected soon. As it comes closer, we sometimes witness seemingly impossible things: someone with end-stage dementia might begin to interact normally, or someone who is very weak might sit up vigorously and even stand.
4) You may see deathbed visitors. As Raymond Moody tells us in his wonderful 2010 book,Glimpses of Eternity, it is not uncommon for people at the bedside to glimpse a long-dead person or pet who has come to escort a loved one to the afterlife levels. You might even have a vision of the beautiful place where your loved one is soon to go, as if a wall of the room had dissolved and let you glimpse a whole new world beyond it.
5) You could see your loved one leaving the body. A faintly glowing mist might appear above the chest and head area. That mist might seem to assemble into a human form that either lies or sits above the body, still attached to it by a glowing cord. This part is highly individual, though! Don’t be concerned if you don’t see anything.
6) You could feel your loved one leaving the body. If you are hugging your loved one at the right moment, you might feel the energy of that newly-freed being pass right through your body; or if you are sitting by the bed, you might just feel a sense of lightness and even elation. Don’t be concerned if none of this happens for you, since it seems to be highly individual. You will know that the dying person’s silver cord has broken when the body ceases to breathe.
7) Don’t try to get the attention of your newly-freed loved one! Once the silver cord is broken, there is no way to re-animate that body. Begging the one you love to try to do that is counterproductive and dangerous. Even your bursting into tears can put your loved one at risk, since it is essential that newly-freed minds keep full attention on their deathbed visitors in order for them to make an easy transition to the afterlife levels of reality. For your loved one to be distracted by you now could mean that he or she might lose the ability to perceive those crucial guides.
8) Give the dying person permission to go! Some dying folks will hang on for days out of worry for us. Or, worse, their bodies might die but they might remain, feeling obligated to us. Rescuing people who have gone off-track is an act of charity, and from one of these rescuers I heard an awful story about a little boy who was found to be still in his hospital bed many years after his death because his mother had begged him not to die while she was away. Apparently he died during that night. The little boy’s mind, though, was still in his bed years later, obediently awaiting his mother’s return.
9) Your loved one may prefer to die in your absence. Death is the most personal act of our lives, and most folks prefer to do it without living people in the room. I am not sure why this is true, but I have a hunch that the dying want to spare us (and themselves) whatever anguish we might feel in witnessing their moment of death. So whenever you leave someone who is dying, tell your loved one that dying while you are away would be all right.
10) Take care of yourself! Losing a loved one is painful, even when we have plenty of warning. Once you have helped a parent or spouse or child through a healthy and positive death, don’t expect to snap right back. Give yourself permission to grieve. Learning what death is and where your loved one is now can help immeasurably to ease your worries; and spending extra time with family and friends, or volunteering to help others, can help you begin to think beyond yourself. But don’t forget to address your own needs.
The one whose body has died is now healthy and happy. Death really is the ultimate illusion! No matter how old you are now, when measured against your eternal life this little period when you will be apart is going to be amazingly brief. You can rejoice in the certainty that a glorious eternal reunion is just around the corner!