to die a peaceful death

"Naturally, most of us would like to die a peaceful death, but it is also clear that we cannot hope to die peacefully if our lives have been full of violence, or if our minds have mostly been agitated by emotions like anger, attachment, or fear. So if we wish to die well, we must learn how to live well: Hoping for a peaceful death, we must cultivate peace in our mind, and in our way of life."
-- His Holiness the Dalai Lama from The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying

Death is unpredictable, yet inevitable. When we avoid the topic, we find ourselves unprepared and thrown into chaos when it arrives unexpectedly. When we accept that it will come and utilize it as a teacher and reminder, we can prepare for and make peace with it.

How can we learn how to cultivate peace in our minds and lives to better prepare for our final exit? Here are a few ways to begin:

Strive to understand and appreciate the preciousness of life. Try dissipating anger and fears by gently facing them and letting go. Live in the moment and enjoy. (Life is supposed to be joyous.)

Practice meditation. Meditation is where a peaceful mind begins. Seemingly simple, yet sometimes difficult to start -- try just a minute or two daily, noticing when your thoughts begin to wander and gently bringing your attention back to your breath. Work your way up to 15-20 minutes to get out of your head and get your zen on.

Accept people for who they are and let go of expectations. Rarely can we change people, but we can change how we feel about others and release the pain we cause ourselves with unrealistic expectations.

Be compassionate. To others, and also to yourself. We are often our own harshest critic. Remembering to show ourselves compassion can help us live well, change the way we see the world, and better treat those who live here with us.

Accepting that death is a natural part of life helps us face it more easily when it does come. Accepting that we all will eventually die can also help us become more comfortable preparing for its arrival. Aside from cultivating our mind, it's also wise to prepare our paperwork.

Here are some of the basics (we should all have):

WILL - a document that designates what happens with your property, guardianship of your children, and names the person (executor) who carries out your wishes after you die.

ADVANCE HEALTH CARE DIRECTIVE - (aka your living will) that outlines your wishes for medical care if you're in an accident and can't speak for yourself.

THOUGHTS ON YOUR CELEBRATION OR FUNERAL - if you want something specific to happen at your funeral or memorial service after you die, it's a good idea to get it in writing and let your family know your wishes.

POWER OF ATTORNEY - A power of attorney is the person who can attend to financial or legal matters if you fall ill or are unable to handle them for yourself.

PASSWORD LIST - Put it in a binder with all of your other important stuff.

LIFE INSURANCE - If you've got a policy, make it easy for your family to find it. They might not know you even have one. Don't let that slip through the cracks.

Depending on the state you live and where you get your Advance Health Care Directive -- it can vary in the amount of information and questions asked. When it comes to personal requests for your final days, it's important to let your loved ones know your wishes by adding to your directive whatever you feel will assist in setting the atmosphere to enhance a peaceful exit. 

Things to consider: Do you want to spend your final days in the hospital or at home? 24/7 visits or designated visiting hours? Bring on the morphine or keep me comfortable but able to focus. Special requests for music? TV on or off? Have any personal requests for a quiet, meditative surrounding? Want to spend some time alone or always have someone there with you? Are there certain spiritual or religious rituals you want or do not want? Write it all down. Let your caregiver and/or family know.

And don't forget to call in hospice. Along with offering useful information concerning the dying process and assistance in every aspect along the way, hospice provides incredible support and advice to family members coping with the stress of an impending loss. Sometimes, it's the people around you having trouble dealing with their own grief, showing too much emotion, or sometimes little at all (not because they don't care - often because they don't want to upset you) that can make for a chaotic and disruptive setting. It can be helpful to have someone there who can guide the process to make it a more peaceful experience.

A peaceful mind. A peaceful way of life. And when the time comes...a peaceful death.

Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published