Death & Dying

Powerful end-of-life practices and compassionate care
  • Tricycle Community 0 comments

    On Breathing Together Paid Member

    For you to be composed and concentrated will help the dying person continue with equanimity on their journey into the after-death state. It can be both calming and otherwise helpful to the dying patient for you to share with them the counting of their breath for periods of about twenty minutes, perhaps several times a day, as they near the threshold of death. You might begin by holding the dying person's hand as the two of you join in counting. First, however, quietly suggest that they concentrate on relaxing one part of their body at a time, such as each arm, each foot, the neck, and so on, until their whole body has been relaxed. Then begin quietly counting aloud to them as they breathe in and out. Count "One" on the inhalation, "Two" on the exhalation, "Three" on the inhalation, and so on, synchronizing your counting with their breathing. Breathe yourself in unison with the counting and their breathing. After counting up to ten, begin with one again. More »
  • Tricycle Community 0 comments

    On the Contagious Power of Presence Paid Member

    Being present is based on the cultivation of mindfulness in whatever we do. Through mindfulness, we develop greater composure and a heightened sensitivity to nonverbal communication. Then, to the extent that we ourselves are present, we can radiate that same quality outward to the people around us. It is hard to be generous, disciplined, or patient if we are not fully present. If we are present and attentive, and our mind is flexible, we are more receptive to the environment around us. When we are working with the dying, this ability to pick up on the environment is invaluable. The more present we are, the more we can tune in to what is happening. At the same time, that quality of presence is contagious. The dying person picks up on it. The people around him pick up on it. Presence is a powerful force. It settles the environment so that people can begin to relax. More »
  • Tricycle Community 0 comments

    On Lending Our Bodies Paid Member

    When we are caring for someone who is sick, we lend them our body. We use the strength of our arms to move them from the bed to the commode, and we can also lend them the strength of our mind. We can help to create a calm and accepting environment. We can be a reminder of stability and concentration. We can expand our heart in such a way that it can inspire the individual who is dying to do likewise. More »
  • Tricycle Community 0 comments

    On Beginning at the Beginning Paid Member

    In working with someone who is dying, there is a tremendous temptation to ignore our own relationship to death and immediately assume the role of the helper. But when we do so, we are losing our common ground with that person. Entering a dying person's world takes courage and empathy. Only by accepting our own vulnerability to death do we overcome the divided perspective of "I (over here) am helping you (over there)." Only then are we in the same boat. So in a sense, we need to be willing to die with that person. Usually we do not want to be in the same boat at all. Although it is embarrassing to admit, we are secretly glad that it is someone else who has cancer and we are the one looking after him rather than the other way around. We find security in the fact that we are not the one who is sick right now. It is hard not to feel that way, even when we are sincerely and earnestly trying to help. More »
  • Tricycle Community 2 comments

    A Caregiver's Story: Deborah Jaymati Levy Paid Member

    At one point when I was sitting with my father, I said, “Dad, are you afraid of dying?” And he said, “I was, but not now.” He didn’t speak of death a lot. There wasn’t a lot to say, really, it was so in your face, so obvious. And he wanted to live up until the moment of death. He didn’t dwell on the fact that he was dying and he didn’t deny it. More »
  • Tricycle Community 0 comments

    On What to Do When the Going Gets Rough Paid Member

    Caregiving from a Buddhist perspective is a recognition that this person’s suffering is also my suffering. When I see this, whether I’m the person in the bed or the person making the bed, I have to confront this precariousness. Buddhist practice can help us enormously in continuing to give our attention to what’s actually appearing, as opposed to being swept away by the drama of the process. What are the basic attitudes that might be helpful in being with someone who is dying? One of those that comes to mind is to be completely ourselves. That means to bring our strength and vulnerability to the bedside. And to recognize that people who are dying continue to need very intimate and natural and honest relationships. We can’t serve from a distance, this is intimate work and we have to be part of the equation so it is absolutely essential that we bring our entire selves to the experience. More »