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

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

HEART ADVICE ON HELPING THE DYING 181Don't try to be too wise; don't always try to search forsomething profound to say. You don't have to do or say anythingto make things better. Just be there as fully as you can.And if you are feeling a lot of anxiety and fear, and don'tknow what to do, admit that openly to the dying person andask his or her help. This honesty will bring you and the dyingperson closer together, and help in opening up a freer communication.Sometimes the dying know far better than we howthey can be helped, and we need to know how to draw ontheir wisdom and let them give to us what they know. CicelySaunders has asked us to remind ourselves that, in being withthe dying, we are not the only givers. "Sooner or later all whowork with dying people know they are receiving more thanthey are giving as they meet endurance, courage and oftenhumor. We need to say so .. ." 3 Acknowledging our recognitionof their courage can often inspire the dying person.I find too that I have been helped by remembering onething: that the person in front of me dying is always, somewhere,inherently good. Whatever rage or emotion arises,however momentarily shocking or horrifying these may be,focusing on that inner goodness will give you the control andperspective you need to be as helpful as possible. Just as whenyou quarrel with a good friend, you don't forget the best partsof that person, do the same with the dying person: Don'tjudge them by whatever emotions arise. This acceptance ofyours will release the dying person to be as uninhibited as heor she needs to be. Treat the dying as if they were what theyare sometimes capable of being: open, loving, and generous.On a deeper, spiritual level, I find it extremely helpfulalways to remember the dying person has the true buddhanature, whether he or she realizes it or not, and the potentialfor complete enlightenment. As the dying come closer todeath, this possibility is in many ways even greater. So theydeserve even more care and respect.TELLING THE TRUTHPeople often ask me: "Should people be told they aredying?" And I always reply: "Yes, as quietly, as kindly, as sensitively,and as skillfully as possible." From my years of visitingill and dying patients, I agree with Elisabeth Kübler-Ross, whohas observed that: "Most, if not all, of the patients know anyway.They sense it by the changed attention, by the new anddifferent approach that people take to them, by the lowering

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