By: Stephen & Ondrea
Posted: September 28, 2012

If possible no one should die alone. A hand held can be more pain relieving than an strong analgesic. It softens the body instead of tightening around, and thus intensifying, their pain.
But always remember the person in the sick bed, possibly including yourself, should be listened to very closely so as to know what most they want. They are the captain of the boat they have been building their whole life to cross the great waters, the work of the heart, the clarity of mind.
Many who clearly wish to have loving company by their bedside may none the less wish at times to have quiet lone-times in which to examine their Life Review. That same life story those bedside may hear repeated many times as one so to speak completes their life and works their way through their last chapter.

If one confronting death wants someone with specialized knowledge and understanding, like a therapist, teacher or priest it can be helpful. And if you ask the person how the visit went and what issues they spoke of if that person wishes to share with was analyzed or even praise the insights they received and what it meant to them.

This is one of the first steps of softening the path, not leaving one completely alone mistaking the shadows on the wall for the light that casts them. This is the process called “ Opening The Heart In Hell” it may allow one to stay that much more conscious of what is happening while its happening seemingly allowing the potential of conscious navigation by familiarity with that which can bounce one off the heart’s clear intentions containing wished for the well being of all sentient beings, stretching the heart to even contain yourself.

Forgveness finishes unfinished business. But it takes awhile to cultivate that openness of heart necessary to allow a lifetime’s armoring to gradually dis-integrate. Let loose of the fist clenched about the heart. A lifetimes’ unattended sorrow.

Sometimes in the course of listening with that loved one to their life review elements of unfinished business may surface and make themselves vulnerable to healing.

Writing a note or letter about one’s unfinished business with someone in order to untangle the loose ends over which we so often trip can be a very skillful means to healing particularly in the burning of that piece of paper in love for yourself and perhaps a inkling of forgiveness for one, who like Thich Nhat Han’s Sea Pirate destroys because he “can not yet see”.

Don’t wait for death to remind you to live. Death is a perfect mirror for life. It clarifies priorities. It will point out the way to the heart from which the best sort of changes naturally arise: compassion and loving kindness, generosity and courage.

When I mentioned, in response to the Dalai Lama’asking me what I was working on about the book YEAR TO LIVE about preparing for death by thoroughly living he asked would that be skillful with the American Consciousness I told him that of the thousands of termanilly ill people we worked with, received phone calls from, exchanged letters with none went on the imagined acting out confronting a diagnosis, “grabbed a bottle of tequila and a sex partner and headed for the hills”…he smiled and laughed shaking his head, “Very good, very good”, he said.

Preparing for death has for millennium been recommended as a precise teaching/practice for cultivating wisdom and mercy.

It was quite noticeable that among those who had complaints, though many died in considerable peace with little loose ends ( karmic debris), there were certain, what seemed to be architical, feelings of an “incomplete life” as a few put it.

The first had to do with work and feelings of giving their life away to a job they did not like instead of working toward some work they loved, gotten a job for the love of it and not for the money. An example was a lawyer who said he wished he had gotten into furniture design, his love the smooth even beat of his heart at the whirring lathe; another a much rewarded autistic Broadway set designer wished only to be an accountant because the numbers “straighten my mind”. But for most it may not be so dramatic.

He for instance would have preferred to study Chinese poetry and culture much sooner but i was distracted by other commitments I would not ever change but left my study from these great masters quite incomplete, barely sufficient for a deeper understanding, to read directly from the heart, learning like a novice ( “Beginner’s Mind” a constant reminder that a new world appears and disappears from moment to moment, from morning to night. Buddha said . “ Fortune changes like the swish of a horse’s tail!”

The second had to do with relationships from some who wished they had gotten a divorce instead of staying with their housemate for safety and money, frightened to start a life they won’t regret on the deathbed.

While others would have gotten married, Some said they wished they had gotten different parents others that they were different parents themselves. How distrust left so many gifts unopened. More than a few said they wished they had put more work into opening their heart. And less stubborn self-protective wall building. Most of those who felt cheated by life were dealing to themselves off the bottom of the deck. Not giving themselves half a chance to seek, much less work to find, “the healing they took birth for.”

The third wish was they would have played more, made love more, served the needs of others more, been less afraid that love would steal their counterfeit selves: the person they have mentally constructed in order to be ”someone of merit”. Pretense the first thing to fall away as the energy gathers in the heart and the fear that created the body begins to disengage.
Don’t wait for tomorrow, no one has ever lived a tomorrow. Only being present in the present leads to a life well lived.

Don’t take a person’s denial away it may be the only hope they have.
Denial for sone is a necessary stage in the eventual opening to the present challenge. And remember though on the outside one may seem only to be digging in and refusing to speak about going further in their process, in actuality the process continues on its own internally, problem solving, like the mind itself, has a life of its own.

One of the values of denial is that because one may not want to speak about it you don’t have to take in too many opinions of others who too quickly try to “force the moment” thinking they know better than the timelessness of the heart that may well be Brailing itself along in the fresh darkness in hopes of finding that tunnel of light rumoured to be around these here parts.

Of course there are some people who facing death ask a trusted loved one to help them push past any denial, any quality or issue that may be blocking their smooth passage. But even with such courageous and seemingly clear-minded patients one needs keep checking along the way that one is in balance, in rhthm, in harmorny, with that other’s comfort zone. Being conscious of the condition that we all wish we were a little better, stronger, more concentrated and evolved than weakness and pain may allow us to demonstrate. They can’t quite be themselves because they may be grieving their loss of you. And everything else!

Denial well explored can break the limitations of our perception. The insights revealed opens the tight filter that keeps us from seeing true, that opens the genuine heart.