The act of dying has become one of the most ignored occurrences in our Western society. What was once the spiritual experience of passing away at home surrounded by loved ones has in many cases been transformed into a technological event.
Medicine has advanced enormously in the last century; one of the downsides of all this progress has been a loss of touch with the difference between saving a life and prolonging a death. This can have dire consequences for the patient as well as the family. Hardly ever the question of quality of life comes up as the decline is inevitable, or how heroic interventions to extend life may affect the surviving spouse or children.
Recently, Palliative Care has come along as a specialty designed to help the elderly and their relatives to make end of life decisions focused on quality not quantity of life. When a loved one has a health emergency it is very painful and difficult to be confronted with rushed medical choices without preparation. Palliative Care is starting to be covered by Medicare in the US.
It is also important to take into account that when invasive procedures are offered late in life, the consequences of general anesthesia and surgery can be devastating. Chances are that after age 80, prolonged interventions could leave the person with dementia.
In our Western world the fear of death is generated by the fear of suffering, the terror of the unknown, the uncertainty of an afterlife, the religious belief of judgment and punishment, and emotional and material attachments.
Sadly, because of this, many people leave without completing some necessary last tasks, like taking care of their survivors, making sure they know they are loved and supported in their journeys, and released form guilt or excessive suffering.
The concept of death in the Orient
All religions speak of an afterlife; in the Orient with its long tradition of spirituality death is considered not just the cessation of bodily functions, but a complex process.
According to the Tibetan Masters it consists of 3 steps. The first being the abandonment of the physical body, returning to the planet the physical matter made available to the soul when incarnated. The second step is the liberation of the soul from the personality and the third the contact of the soul with Source.
In this tradition death doesn’t happen without the soul deciding when and how to go. There is never an untimely departure. Several reasons will affect this decision, basically the soul leaves when its mission is accomplished, when it’s about to do something that will greatly jeopardize its evolution, when it made a mistake on the timing of incarnation (between pregnancy and 3 years of age), or there is a collective disappearance for the good of humanity.
Journey of the soul
After the soul leaves the body an expansion of consciousness takes place. Without the limitations of the physical body it reconnects with divine nature, where space and time don’t exist. Then a review of the life lived occurs, the good, the bad, the mistakes in its evolution, and the harm done to others is revised. This process allows the soul to be absolutely conscious of what needs to be repaired and what needs to be learned. At this point it determines the environment in which the next incarnation will happen.
The following step is looking for evolutionary partners. Souls evolve in clusters, not isolated. They always meet again assuming different roles in order to experiment them all. Somebody that is a spouse in this life can be a friend or a parent in the next incarnation. According to this theory when death separates us from a loved one, it is only temporarily, we will see them again and again, until the evolutionary journey is completed.
The Long Goodbye, Kathy Butler. The Sun Magazine April 2014
Del Cuerpo al Espíritu, Rogelio D’Ovideo