The-Tibetan-Book-of-Living-and-Dying

realjannaweiss

The-Tibetan-Book-of-Living-and-Dying

UNFINISHED BUSINESS

HEART ADVICE ON HELPING THE DYING 185

Another anxiety of the dying is often that of leaving unfinished

business. The masters tell us that we should die peacefully,

"without grasping, yearning, and attachment." This

cannot fully happen if the unfinished business of a lifetime, as

far as possible, is not cleared. Sometimes you will find that

people hold onto life and are afraid to let go and die, because

they have not come to terms with what they have been and

done. And when a person dies harboring guilt or bad feelings

toward others, those who survive him suffer even more

deeply in their grief.

Sometimes people ask me: "Isn't it too late to heal the pain

of the past? Hasn't there been too much suffering between me

and my dying friend or relative for healing to be possible?" It

is my belief, and has been my experience, that it is never too

late; even after enormous pain and abuse, people can find a

way to forgive each other. The moment of death has a

grandeur, solemnity, and finality that can make people reexamine

all their attitudes, and be more open and ready to forgive,

when before they could not bear to. Even at the very end of a

life, the mistakes of a life can be undone.

There is a method for helping to complete unfinished business

that I and my students who work with the dying find

very helpful. It was formulated from the Buddhist practice of

equalizing and exchanging the self with others, and from the

Gestalt technique, by Christine Longaker, one of my earliest

students, who came to the field of death and dying after the

death of her husband from leukemia. 5 Usually unfinished business

is the result of blocked communication; when we have

been wounded, we often become very defensive, always arguing

from a position of being in the right and blindly refusing

to see the other person's point of view. This is not only

unhelpful, it freezes any possibility of real exchange. So when

you do this exercise, begin it with the strong motivation that

you are bringing up all your negative thoughts and feelings to

try and understand them, to work with them and resolve

them, and finally now to let go of them.

Then visualize in front of you the person with whom you

have the problem. See this person in your mind's eye, exactly

as he or she has always looked to you.

Consider now that a real change takes place, so the person

is far more open and receptive to listen to what you have to

say, more willing than ever before to share honestly, and

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