I have had the privilege of being with both my parents during the final stages and end of their lives. I was grateful of the opportunity to share this time with them. Lama Marut taught some great advices to help with assisting those who are dying. I was very thankful to recall them during this time. I wanted this time to be about sharing stories, feelings, acceptance, forgiveness and gratitude. However, sometimes things don’t quite go the way we want or expect. And sometimes all that is needed is to simply be there.
My Mother was a very pragmatic person who had had many hardships in her life and sadly few tools to deal with them. She was in her own words ‘black and white’ and was not one for fuss, flowers or fanfare. She made it quite clear that she did not want discuss her eminent death or to receive any expressions of gratitude. She was also reluctant to talk about past memories, even the good ones or to discuss forgiveness. I would get a ‘don’t give me that bullshit’ and an eye roll which told me that was not what she needed. So, instead I did my best to remain a steady peaceful, silent presence and making her physically comfortable where I could.
She gave me strict guidelines regarding the family getting together in a farewell service. Initially she said I was to say nothing about her, just the Lord’s Prayer. Thankfully she reconsidered to allow one thing to be said about her and the Lord’s Prayer. I made the one thing about family and the fact that her life was meaningful because of what she considered her biggest achievement – her three children, who were good people and she was pleased with that. My Dad was less restrictive and I was thankful for many opportunities to share stories, love, forgiveness and gratitude with him.
So Lama Marut’s advices as I understand them are in a nutshell they are………..
I was not able to verbalise these advices with my Mum as she did not want to discuss or hear such things. So, I did these three things as mental practices. I thought them to her, including doing a Tong Len practice - sending love and gratitude on the outbreath and removing suffering on the in-breath. When Mum could no longer talk, I was able to reassure her she had done her best and that we loved her and were all very thankful for what she had done for all of us. And that we would miss her, but because of what she had given us we would be ok. I didn’t carry on too much, as I knew she wouldn’t like that.
We often do not get to be with loved ones when they are passing away, like when they are taken suddenly. However, we can do our best to practice these things mentally and with others at any time. We can in person or with our minds express our love and appreciation for others, we can forgive them and ourselves and we can be kind, often and lots.
With love, appreciation and very best well wishes to us all