“Conscious dying” is a term used to describe the process of preparing for a peaceful transition. It acknowledges that each of us is going to die and that contemplating what a “good death” means can help us prepare to leave this life with a sense of acceptance, completion, and peace of mind.
Though there is more benefit in beginning this practice and preparation early in adult life, often it is done after receiving a terminal diagnosis.
The path of conscious dying is unique for everyone, but there are common elements in each person’s journey:
- Pre-planning: completing Advance Directives
- Making informed choices: Life Support/Death Support
- Releasing attachments & Healing relationships
- Understanding the physical and emotional stages of dying
- Sitting vigil with the dying
- Religious/spiritual rituals at the time of death
- Planning music and sacred singing at the deathbed
- Choosing options for after-death care, funerals, and final disposition
The work of conscious dying may call for the skills of a clergy person, therapist, death midwife, or the generous listening skills of a compassionate family member of friend. Assistance in identifying and working with difficult emotions such as fear, shame, or other unresolved issues can lift the burdens from the heart, mind, and spirit of the dying person and contribute to a more graceful, peaceful passage.