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

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

HEART ADVICE ON HELPING THE DYING 189alas, is often lacking in the West, but my experience over thelast twenty years has shown that it can, with imagination, becreated. I feel that wherever possible, people should die athome, because it is at home that the majority of people arelikely to feel most comfortable. And the peaceful death thatthe Buddhist masters advise is easiest to obtain in familiar surroundings.But if someone has to die in hospital, there is agreat deal that you the loved ones can do to make that deathas easy and inspiring as possible. Bring in plants, flowers, pictures,photographs of loved ones, drawings by children andgrandchildren, a cassette player with musical tapes, or, if possible,home-cooked meals. You might even get permission forchildren to visit or for loved ones to stay overnight.If the dying person is a Buddhist or a member of anotherfaith, friends could make a small shrine in his or her room,with inspiring pictures or images. I remember a student ofmine, Reiner, who was dying in a private ward in a hospital inMunich. A shrine had been created for him with pictures ofhis masters on it. I was very moved by it, and realized howprofoundly Reiner was being helped by the atmosphere it created.The Buddhist teachings tell us to make a shrine withofferings when a person is dying. Seeing Reiner's devotion andpeace of mind made me understand just how empoweringthis can be, and how it can help inspire people to make theirdying a sacred process.When a person is very close to death, I suggest that yourequest that the hospital staff do not disturb him or her sooften, and that they stop taking tests. I'm often asked what ismy attitude toward death in intensive care units. I have to saythat being in an intensive care unit will make a peaceful deathvery difficult, and hardly allow for spiritual practice at themoment of death. As the person is dying, there is no privacy:They are hooked up to monitors, and attempts to resuscitatethem will be made when they stop breathing or their heartfails. There will be no chance of leaving the body undisturbedfor a period of time after death, as the masters advise.If you can, you should arrange with the doctor to be toldwhen there is no possibility of the person recovering, and thenrequest to have them moved to a private room, if the dyingperson wishes it, with the monitors disconnected. Make surethat the staff knows and respects the dying person's wishes,especially if he or she does not wish to be resuscitated, andmake sure that the staff knows too to leave the body undisturbedafter death for as long as possible. In a modem hospital,

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