to produce miraculous results in the dying person or "save"

them. You will only be disappointed. People will die as they

have lived, as themselves. For real communication to be established,

you must make a determined effort to see the person

in terms of his or her own life, character, background, and history,

and to accept the person unreservedly. Also don't be distressed

if your help seems to be having very little effect and

the dying person does not respond. We cannot know the

deeper effects of our care.


A dying person most needs to be shown as unconditional a

love as possible, released from all expectations. Don't think

you have to be an expert in any way. Be natural, be yourself,

be a true friend, and the dying person will be reassured that

you are really with them, communicating with them simply

and as an equal, as one human being to another.

I have said, "Show the dying person unconditional love,"

but in some situations that is far from easy. We may have a

long history of suffering with the person, we may feel guilty

about what we have done to the person in the past, or anger

and resentment at what the person has done to us.

So let me suggest two very simple ways in which you can

release the love within you toward the dying person. I and

my students who work with the dying have found both these

ways to be powerful. First, look at the dying person in front

of you and think of that person as just like you, with the

same needs, the same fundamental desire to be happy and

avoid suffering, the same loneliness, the same fear of the

unknown, the same secret areas of sadness, the same halfacknowledged

feelings of helplessness. You will find that if

you really do this, your heart will open toward the person and

love will be present between you.

The second way, and I have found this even more powerful,

is to put yourself directly and unflinchingly in the dying

person's place. Imagine that you are on that bed before you,

facing your death. Imagine that you are there in pain and

alone. Then really ask yourself: What would you most need?

What would you most like? What would you really wish

from the friend in front of you?

If you do these two practices, I think you would find that

what the dying person wants is what you would most want:

to be really loved and accepted.

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