Deathcare Dossier

Or, How to be UnburdensomeMary Talbot

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In a famous teaching to his aunt, Mahapajapati Gotami, the Buddha describes the heartwood of the dharma, and how to gauge whether a given teaching promotes qualities that lead to release and to all the good things leading up to release. Among them are teachings that result in “being unburdensome, not to being burdensome.” In the same vein, when chanting the Sublime Attitudes, Buddhists invoke the wish to look after themselves with ease and that others may do the same.

To that end, the list that follows contains the principal documents and instructions that can help us not be a burden—at the end of life and in death—to ourselves or to our loved ones. Organizations such as Funeral Consumers Alliance and the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization (see resource guide) make available end-of-life and funeral planning kits that can take much of the research and guesswork out of this process.

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