I was very close to my father, and very upset when he died. A few days after his death, I turned over in my bed, supposedly still in mid-dream, when a shadowy form appeared. He, for I assumed the figure to be such, was similar to those dark depictions of the spirit...
“Any time gone by was better,” wrote the Spanish poet Jorge Manrique in the 15th century, perfectly capturing what a powerful emotion nostalgia is.
In Western culture, many have become removed from witnessing the actual dying experience as a normal part of life. In my hospice work, I often find myself not only energetically supporting the patient, but also providing guidance to family and loved ones who...
Grieving is not something done to us, but rather something we do. Thus, grief demands a response from us, one other than resignation. An active process specifies choices and presumes change. More than anything, the process of grief is about transformation.
There is much you can do to prepare yourself for the great adventure of death. But it is well to remember that you are alive, and as such, you are meant to live. Avoid the tendency to become preoccupied or obsessed with death. Keep death in perspective with other major life events.
Death is the great mystery of life. That is one of the reasons why the stories of those who have undergone a near-death experience (NDE) have captivated millions of people. We are curious about the afterlife, but more so, we want to know what it feels like to die.
In homes across the U.S., families increasingly know someone who has been sick or hospitalized with COVID-19. The death toll passed a quarter-million Americans on Nov. 18, 2020, less than 10 months into the pandemic.
Grief is a bittersweet emotion. Even though it hurts we subconsciously long for the grief to continue. We are willing to put up with the pain if we can still have the remnants, at least, of a loved one who now exists only in memory. We want the connection without the pain, but the two coexist.
It’s important to realize that everyone’s process — everyone’s sense of tragedy, loss, and grief — will be different. Some feel as if they are going crazy, or they feel absolutely lost. Some find handrails — like faith, community, a spouse — that keep them grounded. There is no one way.
Intention is the ability to decide what it is we want to achieve and then setting out to achieve that goal. We use the power of intention in business, politics, and education. Can we use it in healing our pain?
The Living Sea of Waking Dreams, Richard Flanagan’s eighth novel, is one of a slew of novels one expects to emerge from the shadow of the 2019–2020 bushfire season that darkened the skies of eastern Australia for weeks on end...
Movies that suck for an hour then end well are remembered as good movies. Those that are decent for an hour but suck at the end take their place in history as bad movies. So, how is your life going to end?
Rituals can hold the core beliefs of a culture and provide a sense of control in an otherwise helpless situation. I came to understand this when I lost my mother last year and participated in the primary Hindu rituals of death and grief.
How do you feel about the idea of dying? Is it something you think about often? Or does it make you feel anxious? These are questions many of us have pondered in recent times.
As the coronavirus pandemic hit New York in March, the death toll quickly went up with few chances for families and communities to perform traditional rites for their loved ones.
Grief is a natural reaction to loss and is something each of us will go through at some point in our lives, whether it is due to the loss of a loved one, a job, or even a belief. When something we love is taken away, grief is our natural, suffering-based response, which can affect not only our emotions, but also our physical and mental health.
When faced with the death or serious illness of a loved one — whether a parent, son or daughter, spouse, or long-time friend — we are almost always shaken, often to the core. When the death is unexpected or sudden, our grief, anger, and confusion can be overwhelming...
Many doctors are continuing to provide end-of-life patients with needless treatments that only worsen the quality of their last days, new research shows.
It’s hard to predict events in the final days and hours of a person’s life. Some deaths are wonderful – a gentle decline preceding a gracious demise.
Soon after we found out Anthony had died I was showering and could hear him screaming at me... I’m OK, Ma! I’m OK! The shock hit me. A glass wall separated us and he was screaming for me to hear him.
When someone comes to me with a particular dis-ease or ailment, that they want to eliminate, my first feeling is to cure them – to relieve them of all pain. That isn’t always the case however. Sometimes the healing that takes place, within a certain human being, is not exactly the way you perceive it to be. Let me explain what I mean by this...
She has been the precocious “little dead girl” admired by distinguished men; the white-clad, solitary spinster languishing alone in her bedroom; and, in more recent interpretations, the rebellious teenager bent on smashing structures of power with her torrential genius.
In the Western world, we are not very good at talking about death. It’s almost as if it has become a taboo subject. One of the ways we demonstrate our uncomfortableness on this subject is to use euphemisms for death.
People die every day. Most will know they are at the end of their lives. Hopefully they had time to contemplate and achieve the “good death” we all seek.
And common fact it is — about 160,000 Australians die in the course of each year —though every death is a particular death and no single death can be quite like another.
Humans often spend an inordinate amount of time and energy avoiding the fact that there is an elephant in the room. This phrase refers to an important topic which everyone is aware of but which isn’t discussed due to the topic being perceived as uncomfortable to talk about.
My mother, my great encourager and supporter, listened patiently as I read her the last chapter of this book, and she did what every daughter prays for at such a moment. She cried and then looked at me with an expression of such admiration and pride. As my mother gave me this gift, she asked a question that would give me one more...
Consider a challenge you may now perceive - a financial struggle, relationship issue, or health problem. If you regard these matters as troubles or you feel smaller than them, that is what they will become. Yet with but a slight shift in perspective, they become opportunities to shine.
While speaking to a friend who has recently 'lost' a dear one to death, I was reminded that we sometimes don't feel comfortable around such situations. The thoughts come up: 'What do I say? How can I make her feel better? Is it better to speak or to be silent?'
What if Joyce dies before me? This is one of my greatest vulnerabilities. Sure, I could die first. Statistically, women live longer than men. Even though we’re both healthy in the important ways, we are still seventy years old. We are now in our senior years. Death of our bodies is no longer something that can be ignored.
‘Despite all our medical advances,’ my friend Jason used to quip, ‘the mortality rate has remained constant – one per person.’
As I write this, the UK government has just announced that 13,729 people have died in hospitals from COVID-19. Care England estimates more than 1,400 people have now died in care homes.
Our society is death-phobic, a particularly harmful trait when it comes to helping children process the death of someone close to them.
“How can someone stop thinking about his or her dead parents? Is this really possible?” Mirka, by email.
My grandma was dying. I was afraid. I was afraid of death. I was afraid to be with her when she died. I was afraid of all the grief I was going to feel. And I was afraid of everyone else's pain, too. I knew I could stay in California and let her die without me, but I couldn't do that...
As we’ve had to give up our normal lives for the foreseeable future, many of us are also feeling a type of grief similar to mourning the death of a loved one. The coronavirus has caused the death of a way of life we were used to.
It is often assumed that life wages a battle to the last against death. But is it possible, as you suggest, to come to terms with death?
It may seem paradoxical, but dying can be a deeply creative process. Public figures, authors, artists and journalists have long written about their experience of dying.
Learning to live with the death of a person or persons I love is teaching me more about myself and about living. I am more complex than I realized, and yet I'm honest about my weaknesses. I am in the process of learning that weakness is strength, not a flaw.
Having joyful things to think about is helpful. We all know, though, that we have many times where tears are helpful, too. Tears can release feelings, can be eye lubricants, and can sometimes remove stress or improve moods. They do not erase the reason we are sad, but they clear the path to remember our joy - our love.
It’s a tragic fact of life that most of us will experience the loss of a loved one. Approximately 50 to 55 million people die worldwide each year, and it is estimated that each death leaves an average of five bereaved individuals.
There is a long tradition of scientists and other intellectuals in the West being casually dismissive of people’s spiritual experiences
Let’s face it, there is never going to be a good time to address anything to do with dying, death or grief. When you’re fit and healthy, the last thing on your mind is the end of your life.
The basic tenets of environmentally friendly living are now being posed for environmentally friendly dying. Green burial is all about sustainability and developing funeral practices that support and heal nature rather than disrupt and harm it.
The year-end holidays are a time of social gatherings, traditions and celebrations. They can also be a time of revisiting and reflection.
I had believed in reincarnation as a child. It was almost a knowing, as I recall. I once had a sense of a place and culture where I’d been many centuries ago, though no recollection of past lives. I just recall a frisson of recognition as I was reading a history book and came across a passage about Chichén Itzá, the pre-Columbian city built by the Mayans...
I never gave much importance to my father's death and its effect on my life. I tucked it away under the category something unfortunate that happened when I was a kid. It felt as though I put all those unexpressed feelings, words and emotions into a little invisible jar and screwed the cap on tightly. My mind must have known...
Since Canada legalized Medical Assistance in Dying (MAiD) in 2016, as of Oct. 31, 2018, more than 6,700 Canadians have chosen medications to end their life.
Anytime I had ever talked about receiving signs or other information from the spirit world, Dad laughed, joked, or scoffed. For personal and religious reasons, he never could understand why I had passed on a surefire career as an opera singer in favor of one as a psychic medium.
Fear of dying – or death anxiety – is often considered to be one of the most common fears. Interestingly though, neither of the two widely used diagnostic psychiatric manuals, DSM-5 or ICD-10, has a specific listing for death anxiety.
The number of people who bury their dead relatives without any official ceremony is increasing rapidly in Sweden, up from less than 2% a decade ago to 8% this year.
Many people who are struck with sudden, progressive or terminal illness are kept alive mechanically, while families and doctors make decisions about treatment.
How can we break the silence about what happens when we’re dying?
There really is no explanation nor prescription for loving, for being with and available to those you love until the last breath and then on. And there is no one way to provide the best possible care for your loved one or for yourself and others who are the caregivers.
The death of a friend is a loss that most people face at some point in their lives – often many times. But it is a grief that may not be taken seriously by employers, doctors or others.
A new review digs into existing research on the connection between grief and the immune system.
Many agree on the factors contributing to a good death. People want to be treated with dignity, have relief from pain and, as much as possible, to control what happens to them.
Euthanasia debates often focus on people experiencing unbearable physiological or psychological suffering. But research suggests “loss of autonomy” is the primary reason for requesting euthanasia, even among patients with terminal cancer.
What happens after death? Do deeply loving feelings exist when we are no longer in physical bodies?
We are all getting older every day. One day you and I will both be old, if it is our destiny to live that long. It is our choice whether we live in fear and act according to other people's expectations of what an older person is or whether we allow ourselves to be authentic and real. Start now; you are an elder in training...
Sometimes we wonder how we are going to survive the seemingly awful circumstances that appear in our lives. We may even wonder if we want to survive the nightmare at all. As much as my husband's dementia was our worst nightmare, I have grown to see that awful time in our lives as an awesome gift.
Healing can come after loss -- that I now know. And I also discovered that more than healing comes -- joy resurfaces, again. I feel an intimate connection with my beloved once again. And I know now, for sure, that time, place, dimension, and space do not have an effect on the presence of love...
At the moment of death, our soul rises out of its host body. If the soul is older and has experience from many former lives, it knows immediately it has been set free and is going home. These advanced souls need no one to greet them. However, most souls I work with are met by guides...
In our never-ending quest to understand what happens to us after we die, humans have long seen the rare phenomenon of near-death experiences as providing some hints.
Our experience of death obviously shapes the final moments of our own life. It also shapes the experience and remains in the memories of those around us. As an intensive care specialist for more than two decades, my colleagues and I do the best we can to provide high-quality end-of-life care.
Understanding the normal trajectory of grief matters for the person experiencing the grief and those treating them. Grief can seem desolate for those in the thick of it who often feel unable to imagine a way out of their suffering. But, as time passes, the pain usually dampens or becomes more fleeting.
Grief brought on by the loss of a spouse can cause inflammation that can lead to major depression, heart attack, and even premature death. For a new study, researchers examined the effect grief has on human health by conducting interviews with 99 people whose spouses had recently died. They also examined their blood.
New research illuminates how some men and boys who are contemplating suicide are finding emotional support in an unexpected place: Reddit. Responses to those posts often contained gendered language of their own, like, “Hey, bro, I’ve been through that before,” or, “What’s bothering you, man?” Sometimes referred to as the “front page of the internet,” Reddit is a social news aggregation and discussion website that’s especially popular among young adult males.
The awe-filled exclamation of Apple’s Steve Jobs — “Oh, wow! Oh, wow! Oh, wow!” — is an example of the intensified language we hear at the threshold and is true to the personality of the inspired innovator. Chaz Ebert, wife of celebrity critic Roger Ebert, shared a detailed account of her husband’s last words, in Esquire in 2013.
Tahlequah made headlines around the world as she carried the body of her dead calf at the surface of the water, sometimes on her head, sometimes in her mouth, for at least 10 days, in a heartbreaking “tour of grief”, as one of the foremost experts on her pod and her family, Ken Balcomb of the Whale Research Foundation, called it.
People don’t die in the same way that they used to. In the past, a relative, friend, partner would pass away, and in time, all that would be left would be memories and a collection of photographs.
As anyone knows who’s cared for an elderly parent, it’s not easy. It’s an unquestionably sacred and transformative task, but it can also be extremely difficult. The demands placed on caregivers are huge.
I didn’t believe in reincarnation when I was a child, having been brought up in a household with a father who was a physicist, but I often had private usual episodes, such as out of body experiences and clairvoyant visions.
Dying is changing. It used to be quick and unexpected for most, due to infection or trauma. Now it comes to us, in general, when we are older – caused by chronic medical conditions such as heart, kidney or lung disease, diabetes or dementia.
In the three-month period following a spouse’s death, widows and widowers are more likely to exhibit risk factors linked to cardiovascular illness and death, according to a new study.
Predicting how long a patient will survive is critically important for them and their families to guide future planning, yet notoriously difficult for doctors to predict accurately. While many patients request this information, others do not wish to know, or are incapable of knowing due to...
It seems so obvious that no one should die alone that we never talk about it, but people do often die when they are alone.
A funeral sometimes results in introspection about our own mortality. Throughout that irksome journey, we discussed our feelings about life and death. We shared experiences, sorrowful personal losses and our mundane philosophies on death and dying, not expecting it to be any more than a normal reaction to the passing of a family member.
When someone dies at home, everyone in the family is affected. Looking after a relative who is at the end of their life can be enormously rewarding, but carers have many unmet information and support needs. This can take a toll on their physical and emotional health.
What do you want to happen to your remains after you die?For the past century, most Americans have accepted a limited set of options without question. And discussions of death and funeral plans have been taboo. That is changing.
November 2 is All Souls’ Day, when many Christians honor the dead. As much as we all know about the inevitability of death, we are often unable to deal with the loss of a loved one.
Death will always carry with it a certain mystical component. No one can truly know what happens when we die, however, deathbed visits and other metaphysical phenomena certainly do provide a confirming hint of what lies beyond this world.
During my near-death experience, it felt to me that all judgment, hatred, jealousy, and fear stem from people not realizing their true greatness. This goes against the natural flow of life-force energy...
In the aftermath of the June terrorist attack in Manchester, an unusual thing happened. Mancunians gathered in St Ann’s Square ended a minute’s silence to honour the dead with a spontaneous rendition of Don’t Look Back in Anger by the homegrown rock band Oasis.
Grief is like this. I was only half-listening to a song on the radio, yet a wave of sadness overcame me for the loss of my father. The song had nothing to do with my dad nor my mood, as I was content and even joyful before the song.
If it were your last days on earth, what would you do? Would it change how you live today? Maybe you would wake up earlier and be a bit more cheerful. You might even stay up later. You would definitely tell your family and friends how much you love them.
One of the ways people bring closure to their lives is through their final requests. The most common requests in the Final Words Project were humble ones related to visiting with friends and family members and enjoying certain small pleasures, like a last bottle of a favorite beer. Those who are dying often wait for...
The oldest surviving great work of literature tells the story of a Sumerian king, Gilgamesh, whose historical equivalent may have ruled the city of Uruk some time between 2800 and 2500 BC.
We are on our way to Chicago to meet a man who has found a way for the living and the dead to talk. He knows how to induce a state in which those who grieve can hear directly from the ones they have lost. I don’t fully believe, but it’s all I have.
Part of my job is to conduct the memorial whenever a death occurs. Although each service is tailored to the circumstances, I begin many of them with the same reading: “To everything there is a season...” It helps me to remember that our lives proceed according to a natural rhythm.
One day you will sit at the bedside of someone you love and have a final conversation. That conversation will invite you into a unique territory — the one that exists between living and dying. You may hear words expressing a desire for...
I should be grateful that I got an opportunity that so many don’t: to say “I love you,” before someone dies. I should feel lucky, right? I should feel endlessly lucky that that’s the last thing we ever said to each other.
Death isn’t bad luck, because there is no difference between the living and the dead. The one in the coffin is doing the same thing as the one grieving in the pew: loving and learning.
From ghosts to ghouls, witches to wizards, Halloween is the one time of the year when people come together to celebrate everything supernatural.
I quickly learned—at the age of four—that while the dead may be dead, they still have a lot to say, and it is my job to listen. As kids, we all learn to look both ways and never take candy from a stranger. I also learned to never argue with a dead person—they often know more than the living.
We cannot avoid emotional pain in life, and it’s through our experience of it that we come to understand what it means to be human. The whole of life is a series of beginnings and endings, a succession of mini-deaths, that we have to learn to take in our stride...
Ghosts are still to be found haunting old buildings, castles, domestic houses, prisons and just about any place of human habitation you can imagine. There are even many recorded stories of ghosts in the White House in Washington. The 16th US President Abe Lincoln has been seen by...
Some births happen with just a few easy pushes while others are a long, drawn out, Herculean task. The moment of death, too, is unique and can happen with gentle ease or struggle and effort. It deserves the same honor we reserve for the moment of birth whether it was a peaceful experience or a conflicted one.
In nursing homes, older people are increasingly frail and being admitted to care later than they used to be. More than half of residents suffer from depression, yet psychiatrists and psychologists aren’t easily accessible, and pastoral or spiritual care is only available in a subset of homes.
Janelle and I first ‘met’ in 2010 when a member of her family came to me for a reading. After this particular reading I overflowed with compassion, feeling the pain of those who believe they have lost their loved ones forever.