Dying A Good Death

A Good Death - the Art of Living Retreat Center

This is a blog about dying a good death. Many people look upon death with dread and sadness. Those who have had near-death experiences feel differently. They know death as a wonderful experience —  filled with peace, freedom and unconditional love.

What does “dying a good death” mean? A good death is a peaceful death, filled with ease and grace. It is a holistic experience: physically pain-free, mentally peaceful, immersed in love and connected with Spirit.

Physically pain-free

Being mortals, we all must face death. Patients often tell me or their health care provider that their greatest fear is that death will be painful. It is usually not. For the vast majority, the dying process is usually a painless letting go. There is no physical discomfort at all.

Nature created our bodies to end life as pain-free as possible. At the time of death, the body naturally produces endorphins, which lead to feelings of happiness, even euphoria.

Two of the most valuable tools for pain management during life are meditation and mantra therapy. Those who meditate are better able to manage chronic pain and have little or no need for opiates (narcotics). These practices are also crucial during end-of-life care, as they ease patients’ fears of death.

Mentally pain-free

Being mentally pain-free is just as important as being physically pain-free. A lifetime of relationship problems and stress can lead to mental anguish, especially as the end of life approaches. Unresolved conflicts leave mental scars that linger and reduce our quality of life until we die.

What can loved ones do? As part of palliative care, there are three things that need to be said as death approaches — by the dying person and their loved ones alike:

“I love you.”

“I forgive you.”

“Please forgive me.”

When I worked with Mercy Hospice, each hospice care volunteer and care team member was given a wallet card with these three simple sentences to remind family members what to say.

Many dying patients who had been holding on too tight, clinging to life, were able to let go and transition after hearing these words.

Love and forgiveness are essential ingredients needed for a good death and should be given out freely. These healing words can clean the slate of unresolved mental conflict. Send out vibrations of love, strength, and courage to your loved one.

The departing soul will definitely receive your vibrations. Such thoughts give your loved ones a sense of well-being and a sense of being loved.

A good death is spiritually connected

A holistic death includes a spirit (Soul Self) that is connected with the highest consciousness. It is the consciousness with many names: Christ consciousness, Shiva consciousness, Krishna consciousness, Buddha consciousness and so on.

Regardless of one’s spiritual tradition, a sacred space should be set. Light a candle. Add aromatic oils or incense. Play soothing mantras or hymns as background music, based on one’s tradition.

The great victory over death mantra

In the Indian and Tibetan traditions, mantric chanting is of paramount importance around the time of death. Whether you or your loved one is passing in a hospital care unit or at home, the vibrations from chanting the Great Victory Over Death mantra, the Mahamrityunjaya, make death effortless — “as easy as the ripe fruit falls from the vine.”

OM Triambakam Yajamahe Sugandhim Pushtivardanam

Uurvarukhamiva Bandhanaan Mrityor Mokshiya Maamritat.

OM to the Three-Eyed One that permeates everything like a fragrance. May we pass from life to death with ease and grace (as easily as the ripe fruit falls from the vine).

Each of us is going to die someday. Dying a good death means transitioning while immersed in love. It is dying with a sense of dignity, life completion, life legacy, and spiritual meaning.

Review Question: What are the three things that need to be said to a loved one at the end of their lives to help them die the good death?

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