Death Education

Joan Halifax Roshi, director of Upaya in Santa Fe in a video I saw not long ago says something to the effect of, "We have sex education in this country but we don't have death education." Amen to that. I have always been struck how babies are welcomed into the world with great anticipation and celebration, but dying people are as though the consummate national embarrassment. Ironically we all belong to the category of dying person the moment we are conceived. What would death education look like? For one, we would be taught from an early age that at some point our life will end. There would be no morbid superstitions about this reality communicated to us, no taboo in talking about death and exploring its implications. Death would be treated the same way we treat any other subject of investigation: with curiosity, respect, and attention. For those who think we'll soon have the technology in place for physical immortality, consider whether it's [...]

By |2018-07-02T12:41:59-05:00July 9th, 2013|Death|Comments Off on Death Education

Holding the Space for the Dying

A lot of people ask me what can be done to support those who are in the process of dying. This is a big topic, but I wanted to offer a few words. If you are visiting a dying person, I feel, the best thing is to hold the space. Others feel that mantras and prayers are helpful, which I believe can be true, but that has to be done in the context of holding space. One should only recite out loud if it's in keeping with the dying person's belief system. One should not recite anything if the dying person has expressed any form of aversion to religious anything. The idea is to gently promote as positive a frame of mind as possible in oneself and in the dying person. Someone who goes in to see a dying person to change his or her belief system is making a mistake through disrespecting the rights and wishes of the dying person and/or misusing [...]

By |2018-07-02T12:39:01-05:00May 9th, 2013|Death|Comments Off on Holding the Space for the Dying
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