Right-to-die advocate’s video released after death

By Gosia Wozniacka

Nearly three weeks after her death, on what would have been her 30th birthday, Brittany Maynard returned to the national spotlight on Wednesday in a video (see below) in which she urges states to pass laws allowing terminally ill people to end their lives on their own terms.brittany_maynard_01

The video, made in August, was released by an advocacy group that worked with Maynard during the last months of her life in a campaign that prompted a national debate about allowing terminally ill people to hasten their deaths.

The group, Compassion & Choices, is hoping that the practice will be expanded beyond the five that already allow it: Oregon, Washington, Montana, Vermont and New Mexico. But even though Maynard’s story received national attention, the groundswell of support on a legislative level for laws like Oregon’s has yet to materialize.

Compassion & Choices held a conference call with journalists on Wednesday, hoping to build on the momentum generated for the movement while Maynard was alive. After the news conference, the organization released a video that is partly narrated by Maynard.

In the video, Maynard says: “I hope for the sake of other American citizens … that I’m speaking to that I’ve never met, that I’ll never meet, that this choice be extended to you.”

The video includes photographs of Maynard before her illness. It also features the voices of other terminally ill patients and their family members.

In the conference call, Compassion & Choices officials said legislators in about a dozen states plan to introduce right-to-die laws next year.

Also on the call were legislators from Pennsylvania and Wyoming.

Rep. Mark Rozzi, a Pennsylvania Democrat whose 63-year-old father died of the same type of brain cancer as Maynard, said the young woman’s campaign and his family’s situation made it apparent why such bills are needed.

“I had to watch my father die of cancer… It was the most gut-wrenching experience our family and he had to endure,” Rozzi said. “He would always tell me this is not the way he wanted to live.”

A “death-with-dignity” bill was introduced in Pennsylvania last month. Rozzi conceded that it has been difficult getting bills out of the judiciary committee when they are opposed by the state’s Catholic leadership.

Rep. Dan Zwonitzer, a Wyoming Republican, said he plans to introduce such legislation in his state.

Oregon was the first state to allow terminally ill patients to die using lethal medications prescribed by a doctor. Maynard moved from California to Oregon to make use of the Oregon law.

The New Jersey Assembly passed a bill last week that would allow physicians to prescribe life-ending drugs to terminally ill patients, with some legislators citing Maynard’s story as a deciding factor in their vote. But Republican Gov. Chris Christie has said he opposes the measure.

In California, the West Hollywood City Council this week passed a resolution that urges the Los Angeles County District Attorney to not prosecute physicians and family members who offer aid in dying to the terminally ill. But the state has no current bills or ballot measures on the issue.

Some religious groups and social conservatives, including a Vatican official and the American Life League, have heavily criticized Maynard’s decision. Pope Francis denounced the right-to-die movement Saturday, saying the practice is a sin against God and creation and provides a “false sense of compassion.” He didn’t refer specifically to Maynard’s case.

Compassion & Choices said its website has had more than 5 million unique visitors during the past month, while Maynard’s two previous videos have been viewed more than 13 million times on YouTube alone.

“I sense immense momentum right now,” said Barbara Coombs Lee, president of Compassion & Choices. “Brittany Maynard is a new voice for a new generation of activists … she devoted her precious energy to help ensure other dying Americans would have a choice.”

Coombs Lee co-authored Oregon’s Death with Dignity law in 1993. She told KATU, “Brittany Maynard was 10 years old then. It’s an honor to carry on her legacy. It’s been 20 years of preparation for a witness like Brittany Maynard — to get this movement where it needs to be.”

Compassion and Choices said there may be more videos released. Maynard recorded countless hours of video in preparation for her death, and the movement she wished for.

A vigil to mark Maynard’s birthday is planned Wednesday night at the First Unitarian Church in downtown Portland. It begins at 6 p.m.
Complete Article HERE!

Right-to-die advocate’s mom blasts Vatican remarks

Brittany Maynard‘s mother is responding angrily to the Vatican’s criticism of Maynard’s decision to end her life early under an Oregon law written to let terminally ill patients die on their own terms.

Days after Maynard’s Nov. 1 death at age 29, the Vatican’s top bioethics official called her choice “reprehensible” and said physician-assisted suicide should be condemned.brittany-maynard

Maynard’s mother, Debbie Ziegler, issued a sharp written response Tuesday. She says the Vatican official’s comments came as the family was grieving and were “more than a slap in the face.”

Her response was made through Compassion & Choices, an advocacy group that Maynard worked with.

Maynard had brain cancer and used her story to speak out for the right of terminally ill people like herself to end their lives on their own terms. Some religious groups and social conservatives also have criticized her decision.

Pope Francis denounces euthanasia as ‘sin against God’

The Pope strongly condemns the ‘right to die’ movement, and warns against abortion, IVF and stem cell research

 (I would have felt better about this had he not conflated suicide, euthanasia and assisted dying.)

By Nick Squires
Pope Francis denounced the right to die movement on Saturday, saying that euthanasia is a sin against God and creation.francis

The Latin American pontiff said it was a “false sense of compassion” to consider euthanasia as an act of dignity.

Earlier this month, the Vatican’s top bioethics official condemned as “reprehensible” the death by assisted suicide of a 29-year-old American woman, Brittany Maynard, who was suffering terminal brain cancer and said she wanted to die with dignity.

“This woman (took her own life) thinking she would die with dignity, but this is the error,” said Monsignor Ignacio Carrasco de Paula, the head of the Pontifical Academy for Life.

“Suicide is … a bad thing because it is saying no to life and to everything it means with respect to our mission in the world and towards those around us,” he said, describing assisted suicide as “an absurdity”.

Ms Maynard took a lethal prescription provided by a doctor in Oregon under the state’s death-with-dignity law. She died on Nov 1 after leaving her family and friends a last message. She had been diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumour earlier this year.

The Pope did not refer to the Maynard case specifically in his remarks, which were made to the Association of Italian Catholic Doctors.

The Catholic Church opposes euthanasia and assisted suicide, teaching that life starts at the moment of conception and should end at the moment of natural death.

The Pope also condemned in vitro fertilization, describing it as “the scientific production of a child” and embryonic stem cell research, which he said amounted to “using human beings as laboratory experiments to presumably save others.”

“This is playing with life,” he said. “Beware, because this is a sin against the creator, against God the creator.”

The Pope considers the assisted suicide movement as a symptom of a contemporary “throw-away culture” that views the sick and elderly as a drain on society.

Francis urged doctors to take “courageous and against-the-grain” decisions to uphold church teaching on the dignity of life.

Complete Article HERE!

Hump Day Humor – 11/12/14

Humor takes the sting away; it humanizes us; it helps us keep our perspective. Humor enriches us; it educates us; it brings us joy. Humor doesn’t dissolve the pain or make our life any less poignant, but it does help make things more bearable. That’s my philosophy, and I’m happy to share it with you on a weekly basis. I hope that if you enjoy what you see, you will take the opportunity to share it with others.

The secret life of death

the way he was

this way but once

the funeral director

Santa Muerte

She’s often depicted as the patron saint of murderers and narco-traffickers, and the Catholic Church condemns devotion to her as blasphemy. But Santa Muerte, or Saint Death, is a Mexican folk saint with a growing following across North America, particularly among the marginalized – transsexuals, immigrants, the poor.

santa_muerte

Gods and Goddesses of Life and Death

The One God of the Near Eastern monotheisms— Judaism, Christianity, Islam—is both the creator and stern but loving father of humankind. He cares for his creation from birth to death and beyond. This is somewhat exceptional among world mythologies. Many creator gods are unbelievably remote in time and space: Maheo in the myths of the Cheyenne of the U.S. Great Plains existed before existence, and numerous creators are sky gods, such as Olorun, or “Sky,” in the myths of the Edo and Yoruba peoples of Nigeria.olorun

Although most peoples of the world preferred to believe that creation had a purpose, sometimes it was incidental or even accidental. Qamaits, warrior goddess of the Bella Coola people of the Northwest coast of Canada, killed off the primeval giants who ruled the earth, making room for other life forms merely as a by-product. Coniraya, one of the oldest of Inca gods, could not help but create: His mere touch made everything burst into life.

Such creators often take scant interest in their creation. Qamaits seldom concerned herself with the earth once she had killed the giants and perhaps humans as well; her rare visits caused earthquakes, forest fires, and epidemics. Other creator gods withdraw once the act of creation is over, leaving subordinates in charge. In Ugandan myth, the creator, Katonda, left his deputies Kibuka (war) and Walumbe (death), along with others, to rule his new universe.

The War Gods

War and death are an obvious pairing. Almost no one embraces death willingly, unless seduced by the evil songs of Kipu-Tyttö, Finnish goddess of illness, into joining her in the underworld of Tuonela. To express most people’s sense of death as a battle lost, death is pictured in many myths as a warrior: Rudrani, the Hindu “red princess,” who brings plague and death, and gorges on blood shed in battle; and Llamo, Tibetan goddess of disease, riding across the world, clad in her victims’ skins, firing her poison arrows. Because warriors give protection too, the ancient Greeks were ushered out of life by a gentler psychopomp (soul guide) than in most mythologies, the warrior god Thanatos, brother of Sleep, who escorted the dead to the gates of the underworld.

PaldenLhamoIf war and death seem obvious allies, war and life seem contradictions. Yet it is precisely on the patrons of war, and other gods and goddesses envisaged as warriors, that the business of human life often rests. In most mythologies, the divine energy of the gods is seen as the great motive force of the universe. This energy may be analogous to that of a storm or some other powerful natural force, as in Egypt where the desert wind was personified as the lion-headed goddess Sekhmet, who when angry became the Eye of Ra, a terrible war goddess who swept over the land, scorching the earth in her wake.

Just as human warriors are stronger and more active than most other people, war gods and goddesses generally embody pure energy: the Hindu goddess Durga is the anger of Shiva’s consort Parvati, just as Kartikeya (Skanda), Hindu god of armies, is the fierceness of Shiva himself. The divine vigor of these deities is barely contained: Sumerian Ninurta existed as power without form until his mother Ninhursaga confined it in the shape of an eagle-winged warrior. The same idea underlies the curious births of many war gods: Iranian Mithra, born from a rock; Greek Athene, springing from Zeus’s head; Kali, the Hindu death goddess, bursting from the forehead of Durga; and Kartikeya, born from the sparks that fell from Shiva’s eyes. They are eruptions into the universe of divine vitality.

Unsurprisingly, therefore, a number of war gods are themselves creators, like the Mesopotamian Marduk, lion-headed SekhmetMithra in ancient Iran, Min in Egypt, Vahagn in Armenian myth, Unkulunkulu of the Amazulu people of South Africa, and (inadvertently) Qamaits. Many more are deeply involved with the creative and intellectual growth of humankind, their myths saying something universal about the way civilizations develop. Except for the Greek Ares, portrayed as brawn without brain, the war gods are often great benefactors. Tools and weapons are the gifts of Gu, the blacksmith god of the Fon peoples of Dahomey, and of Ogun, venerated by the Yoruba as the power of iron. Craft-skills are bestowed by Greek Athene and Sumerian Ninurta, healing and medical skills by lion-headed Sekhmet and by Unkulunkulu, the Amazulu creator. Magical knowledge is the legacy of Norse Odin, prophecy of Baltic Svandovit. Justice and fair dealing are the province of Norse Tr and Roman Mars, sovereignty and rule of Celtic Medb, Germanic Teutatis, and both Mars and the Roman war goddess Bellona.

It is very often the war gods, too, who oversee the continuance of the human race, and indeed the ability of all living things to reproduce themselves. The myths say this in different ways. Several war gods and goddesses, notably the Greek Ares and the Celtic Medb, were notorious for their sexual appetites. Just as Ares coupled for preference with Aphrodite, so in Haitian voudun (voodoo), Ogoun enjoys sex with the love goddess Erzulie. The Mesopotamian Ishtar, goddess of sex, was in Assyria also the war goddess, to whom were offered the flayed skins and severed hands of prisoners.

This is less a commentary on the rape and pillage historically associated with invading armies than a reflection of a link between war gods and a broader notion of generation and fertility. Gu, in Dahomey, oversaw both fertility and war; Cihuacóatl, Great Goddess of the Aztecs, had charge of war and women’s fecundity. In particular instances, the link between war and fertility might arise from the war god’s dual role as sky and weather god, by analogy with the life-giving rain, as with Mars and Svandovit. Another line of development is represented by Hachiman, who began as aprotector of crops and children, came to protect the whole of Japan, and then became a war god.

Sex and Fertility

Sucellus, the Good StrikerBut war gods aside, a connection between sex/fertility and death is made in many mythologies from the most ancient past down to the present time. Nergal in Mesopotamia, embodied as a bull (a widespread symbol of virility), was notorious both for his sexual activity and also for dragging mortals off to the underworld; Sucellus, the “Good Striker,” in Celtic myth had a hammer which he used both to strike plenty from the ground and to hit dying people on the forehead to make death easier; Ghede, originally the Haitian god of love, was in later voudun belief amalgamated with Baron Samedi, the dancing god of death who was often questioned via blood sacrifice on questions of fertility.

This link between sex and/or fertility and death is epitomized by Hathor, originally a fierce blood-drinking Nubian war goddess who wore the same lion-headed form as Sekhmet. When introduced into Egypt, she became the cow of plenty whose milk was the food of the gods and kept them fecund. It was Hathor, too, who entertained the sun god Ra on his nightly voyage through the underworld, and also guided souls to the court of the judge of the dead, Osiris.

Life and death are two sides of the same coin: Innanna, Sumerian goddess of sex and fertility, is the twin sister of Ereshkigal, queen of the underworld. They are not two but one, a dual goddess, light and dark. Consider the Irish myths of the Daghdha. Wise, associated with magic, like the war gods he was master of arts and skills. But he was also the gluttonous god of abundance and of fertility, coupling with Boann, the spirit of the river Boyne, as well as his wife Dana, and with the war goddess the Morrigan (significantly on New Year’s Day). He wielded a huge club—with the knobbed end killing the living, the other restoring the dead to life.

Other Aspects of Gods and Goddesses

Some mythologies have vanished; some have gone on to become world faiths. One of the survivors is Hinduism, which expresses its philosophy of life and death in the myth of Shiva, a warrior of vast strength, the most powerful being in the universe, armed with invincible weapons (including a bow made from the rainbow and a trident of thunderbolts). Like many war gods, he was born oddly,

The connection between fertility and death is made in many mythologies. The orginal Nubian war goddess turned Egyptian fertility goddess, Hathor, is characterized by these labor amulets. CORBIS

The connection between fertility and death is made in many mythologies. The orginal Nubian war goddess turned Egyptian fertility goddess, Hathor, is characterized by these labor amulets.

CORBIS

from a slit in a vast penis that appeared in the universe. (He is still honored in the form of a phallic stone column, the lingam.) At the same time, his titles include Kala (“Death”) and Nataraja (“Lord of the Dance”), because of the terrible dance he dances at the end of each cycle of the universe, when he opens his fearful third eye and unmakes the whole of creation. He is one of the three supreme deities: He destroys, Vishnu preserves, Brahma maintains balance. Together, they order the universe.Though many ancient mythologies explained how death came into the world, comparatively few promised a better life to come. Their underworlds were mostly gloomy places, into which the dead were thrust by hideous demons or fierce warrior-deities, and there either forgotten by their creator or made to stand trial before some dread underworld lord such as Osiris in Egypt or in Chinese Buddhist myth the Four Kings of Hell, who guard the Scrolls of Judgment in which all past lives are recorded. No wonder that many underworlds are filled with unhappy souls, like the spirits led by Gauna, death in the myths of the Bushmen of Botswana, who are so miserable in the world below that they keep trying to escape and take over the world above.

But several societies evolved myths of death and resurrection gods built on the analogy with plant life, which springs up and dies in an annual cycle. The Greeks told the story of Adonis, loved by both Aphrodite and the underworld goddess Persephone. When he was killed by a jealous Ares, scarlet anemones sprang up from drops of his blood. Zeus solved the rivalry between the goddesses by decreeing that Adonis should spend half his year with Aphrodite, half with Persephone in the underworld.

Death and resurrection gods form the background to the emergence in the Near East of mystery religions, so-called because only initiates knew their secrets. These extended the chance of a better hereafter beyond a close circle of special people, such as the pharaohs and nobles in Ancient Egypt afforded a kind of immortality by mummification; Greek heroes taken to the happy Isles of the Blest instead of gloomy Hades; and Norse warriors carried off the battlefield by Odin’s battle-maidens, the valkyries, to the everlasting feast in his mead-hall Vallhalla, whereas those who died in their beds were consigned to the dismal realm of the goddess Hel.

OsirisThe mystery religions promised life after death to all believers. In Egypt, Aset (Isis), sister and consort of Osiris, by her magical skills reassembled the corpse of Osiris, after he was dismembered by his brother Set. However, the gods decreed that Osiris (perhaps because he could no longer function as a fertility deity, Aset having been unable to find his penis) should henceforth serve as judge of the dead in the underworld. From this evolved the Mysteries of Isis, a popular cult in Ptolemaic Egypt and Rome, from the first century B.C.E. to the fourth century C.E. At their initiation, devotees were told the secret name of the sun god Ra, which Isis won from him in order to revivify Osiris. They believed that knowing this name empowered them to conquer age and sickness, even death.

From Iran came the cult of the creator and war god Mithra who fought and killed the primeval bull, from whose blood and bone marrow sprang all vegetation. He eternally mediates on humankind’s behalf with his father, Ahura Mazda, the god of light, and combats the dark lord, Ahriman, the evil principle. This battle will end on Judgment Day with Mithra’s triumph. In ancient Rome, where he was known as Mithras, Mithra became the focus of a mystery religion practiced especially by soldiers. Initiation into his cult, as into that of Isis, was believed to ensure immortality. The cult never became widespread, partly because it was secret, partly because it was austere, but chiefly perhaps because it was closed to half the population—the women.

By contrast, Christianity spoke to both sexes. It outlasted both the Mysteries of Isis and those of Mithras, perhaps because the answer it gave to the question “What happens to me after death?” was the same for everyone, king or subject, master or slave, soldier or farmer, man or woman. Moreover, the bodily death and resurrection of Christ himself, prefiguring the triumph over death of all who believed in him, was said to have happened to a historical person within or almost within living memory, rather than to a god in some remote mythical time.

Complete Article HERE!

Life Is But A Dream – 11/03/14

What does “life is but a dream” mean?

Sometimes when something unbelievable happens, it’s so outrageous (usually in a good way) that it seems like you’re in a dream.

Life is what you make of it. So if you dare to dream, envision what you want it to be – it becomes your reality. It goes right along with the saying “You can be anything you want to be…”

In dreams anything is possible, impossible becomes possible. In life there are limitations with unseen forces that work along with our motives to confuse us more on the path to fulfillment. Life is but a dream – nothing is so easy as to dream it and make it happen right that moment without obstacles standing in way.

 

Dia de los Muertos (Day Of The Dead)

More than 500 years ago, when the Spanish Conquistadors landed in what is now Mexico, they encountered natives practicing a ritual that seemed to mock death.

It was a ritual the indigenous people had been practicing at least 3,000 years. A ritual the Spaniards would try unsuccessfully to eradicate.

A ritual known today as Dia de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead.

The ritual is celebrated in Mexico and certain parts of the United States. Although the ritual has since been merged with Catholic theology, it still maintains the basic principles of the Aztec ritual, such as the use of skulls.

Today, people don wooden skull masks called calacas and dance in honor of their deceased relatives. The wooden skulls are also placed on altars that are dedicated to the dead. Sugar skulls, made with the names of the dead person on the forehead, are eaten by a relative or friend, according to Mary J. Adrade, who has written three books on the ritual.

The Aztecs and other Meso-American civilizations kept skulls as trophies and displayed them during the ritual. The skulls were used to symbolize death and rebirth.

The skulls were used to honor the dead, whom the Aztecs and other Meso-American civilizations believed came back to visit during the monthlong ritual.

Unlike the Spaniards, who viewed death as the end of life, the natives viewed it as the continuation of life. Instead of fearing death, they embraced it. To them, life was a dream and only in death did they become truly awake.

“The pre-Hispanic people honored duality as being dynamic,” said Christina Gonzalez, senior lecturer on Hispanic issues at Arizona State University. “They didn’t separate death from pain, wealth from poverty like they did in Western cultures.”

However, the Spaniards considered the ritual to be sacrilegious. They perceived the indigenous people to be barbaric and pagan.

In their attempts to convert them to Catholicism, the Spaniards tried to kill the ritual.

But like the old Aztec spirits, the ritual refused to die.

To make the ritual more Christian, the Spaniards moved it so it coincided with All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day (Nov. 1 and 2), which is when it is celebrated today.

Previously it fell on the ninth month of the Aztec Solar Calendar, approximately the beginning of August, and was celebrated for the entire month. Festivities were presided over by the goddess Mictecacihuatl. The goddess, known as “Lady of the Dead,” was believed to have died at birth, Andrade said.

Today, Day of the Dead is celebrated in Mexico and in certain parts of the United States and Central America.

“It’s celebrated different depending on where you go,” Gonzalez said.

In rural Mexico, people visit the cemetery where their loved ones are buried. They decorate gravesites with marigold flowers and candles. They bring toys for dead children and bottles of tequila to adults. They sit on picnic blankets next to gravesites and eat the favorite food of their loved ones.

In Guadalupe, the ritual is celebrated much like it is in rural Mexico.

“Here the people spend the day in the cemetery,” said Esther Cota, the parish secretary at the Our Lady of Guadalupe Church. “The graves are decorated real pretty by the people.”

Complete Article HERE!

We’re Toast…

Everything That Will Kill You

 

 

Some Thoughts on The Dying Process: Dying Wisely and Well, Part 2

Look for Part 1 of this series HERE!

One to Two Weeks Prior to Death

Disorientation

Expect that you will be sleeping most of the time now. As you die, consciousness will be harder for you to maintain. Those who attend you will be able to arouse you from your slumber, but upon awakening you may experience a period of disorientation.saying-goodbye11

Those around you may find you confused at times. They may even report that while you slept you seemed to talk to people who were not there. Your sleep may appear to some as restless and fitful. This will most likely add to the agitation of those who witness it. They may misinterpret these events and imagine that you are in distress.

If you are not in distress, you can reassure them with confidence that this, too, is natural and that they should be at ease.

Breathing exercises like those practiced by expectant mothers, deep and paced, are helpful for all concerned.

Remember you are in charge of your dying environment. The anxiety of those who attend you, if left unchecked, can disturb your sense of well-being and cost you the serenity you seek.

Physical Changes
As you approach your death there will be discernible changes in your body. For example, you will lose weight. Your blood pressure will drop. Your pulse rate will either increase from its usual range to upwards of one hundred fifty beats per minute, or decrease to near zero.

physical signs of dyingYour body temperature may fluctuate wildly. At times you will feel feverish, at other times you will feel a chill. You will experience an increase in perspiration, and what some describe as clamminess.

Those who attend you should be prepared to deal with all these eventualities. Cold compresses and extra blankets should always be easily available.

Your skin color will change: flushing with fever at one minute, becoming bluish with cold at another. Often a pale yellowish pallor will appear. Your hands and feet will become pale or even bluish as your heart’s ability to move sufficient blood through your body diminishes.

Expect your appendages and abdomen to swell and change color as bodily fluids begin to pool. This can also result in a change in your skin’s texture.

Gentle massage with a light lotion is comforting for both you and the person doing the massage. Don’t be afraid to ask for touch.death_and_dying

Your breathing will also begin to change. At times your respiration rate will increase from its usual range to forty breaths a minute or more. At other times your respiration rate will decrease to nine or even six breaths a minute.

You will want to prepare those who attend you for when you will stop rhythmic breathing altogether. This most often occurs during sleep.

Congestion in your lungs will cause a rattling sound in your lungs and upper throat, and may be accompanied by a dry cough. All of these changes will come and go.

Have those who attend you keep your mouth and lips moist. Ice chips on your tongue and glycerin swabs for your mouth and lips are ideal for this purpose.

One or Two Days to Just Hours Prior to Death

coping-with-death-processYou may have a surge of energy just before death, particularly if you have recently discontinued all your medications, except those you take for pain control. (Many of the medications you consume to treat your illness can have unfortunate side effects. Eliminating them during your dying process often gives your body an opportunity to rebound, resulting in an energy surge.)

You may have periods of heightened alertness and clarity unlike what you have become used to. You may resume eating even though you may not have eaten anything for days.

You may even have a renewed interest in being with people. This is an ideal time for closure with those you love. Giving and receiving farewells and offering blessings, as well as ritualizing this most important passage can be uplifting and life affirming for all involved.

If you are afforded this effervescence, know that it will be short lived. Time is at its most precious now. Use it wisely.

Immediately following this small window of renewed vigor the signs of death’s embrace will become more pronounced.

This can be a time of great distress for those who will survive you. They may have misinterpreted your rally of just days or even hours ago to mean that you are getting better. They should be reassured before this happens that all is on course and that your death is near.

There will be an increase in restlessness now as your body tries to compensate for a decrease in oxygen in the blood. Your breathing will become slower and more labored. It’s not unusual for your breathing to stop for long periods before resuming. Sounds produced by the congestion in your lungs will become more audible.

Those who attend you can ease your labored breathing by changing your position in bed.
Don’t expect to be present during much, if any, of this final stage. Your work is done. All you have to do now is let go. Nature will take care of the rest.

If you are registering any sensory input at all during this time it is most likely through your sense of hearing.

Those who attend you should be aware that they can be an enormous help to you at this time. To die peacefully with soft music playing in the background and with words of goodbye and thank you ringing in your ears will make all the difference in the world for both you and them.

Your eyes may be open or semi-open but you’re not seeing anything. For all intents and purposes, you are no longer here. All that remains is for your body’s mechanical systems to shut down.crying

Your eyes will have a glassy look to them or they will be tearing. Your hands and feet are now purplish, your extremities, back and buttocks are blotchy. Your dying is complete when you stop breathing.

However, what appears to be your last breath often is not. One or two long-spaced breaths at the last moments of life are not uncommon. When these finally subside, you are dead.

Your death, like most things in life, needs formal recognition. An official such as a doctor, hospice nurse or coroner must make that pronouncement.

Conclusion

Some final thoughts.
Throughout your dying process, those who survive and attend you will be looking to you for direction. They will expect and want you to express your needs and desires for as long as you are able. But even when you are no longer able to communicate in any form, crucial decisions continually need to be made. For example, when would you like life support systems such as oxygen removed, and by whom?

The wise person will have clearly and unambiguously addressed all such concerns both verbally and in writing. Durable Power documents and/or a Living Will are specifically designed for this purpose.

Remember there is no one particular way of dying well. In the final analysis, you will probably die the way you lived. However, if you wish to achieve an awareness, appreciation and acceptance of your own dying while participating in it, you can, but it will take work and commitment.

This kind of conscious dying won’t eliminate the pain and poignancy of separation, but hopefully you will learn how to face these and live through them to the end.

Good luck.

Get Adobe Flash player Plugin by wpburn.com wordpress themes