Once verbal communication is no longer possible with the dying, how can you be more present with your Loved One and yourself? What is comforting, helpful or beneficial during this time? What may the Dying One be experiencing?
I have spent the past twenty years communicating with Unresponsive Dying patients. My passion for this unique work began with my own Near Death Experience (NDE) following a five year debilitating illness. Add numerous Shared Death Experiences (SDE) to this mix and you now have the catalysts bringing forward this information for those seeking it.
There is a definite change when a dying individual becomes unresponsive, not just physically, but in other areas as well. This shift usually begins prior to this time but may not be acknowledged or accepted by Loved Ones, Caregivers, or sometimes even the Dying One.
Common indicators that an individual has begun the process of their nonphysical being separating from their physical body include but are not limited to:
Having conversations with deceased Loved Ones, spiritual leaders or other unseen beings
Hearing music or seeing visions that others do not
Having difficulty differentiating what is of this physical reality and what is not
Once unresponsive, the individual is far more aware of and present in their nonphysical existence than their physical body. What has been helpful, supportive or comforting is now different. Those in the unresponsive state of dying are delicate and fragile. Their senses are unusually heightened, resulting in them being extremely sensitive to their surroundings.
To allow the individual to strengthen their focus on inner changes in progress, the following suggestions are given to Caregivers and Loved Ones:
Give less stimulation to the physical body such as massages, brushing hair, clipping nails
Provide low, indirect lighting
Play soft, unfamiliar music, no lyrics (highly recommend: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cXy6VE6PoGQ)
Keep their space as fragrance-free as possible
Provide a gentle, light touch (avoid rubbing, patting or squeezing)
Use a soft, calm, soothing voice to convey a tone of well-being
All of these actions serve to support the Dying One easing away from the physical world, aligning more with their nonphysical reality.
This process of separation is apparent by the symptoms of the body. What is occurring in the nonphysical reality during this separation is subtle and not well known.
As the physical body is coming to a halt, the Inner Existence of the Dying One is becoming more prominent. Learning to move about without a physical body, to instantly communicate mind-to-mind, feeling heart-to-heart with others...this is the focus, the new reality the Dying One is experiencing. A new way of existing has opened.
Walking through the Doorway of Physical Death is a progressional transformation. This is a time of transition with helpers, guides and companions. Whatever the Dying One feels comfortable with and believes will be there, is there for them. Their beliefs give shape to this experience.
The following summaries represent communication with Unresponsive Dying Ones with whom I have been present during this separation process.
"This life has been an adventure. One I have enjoyed living. Now that it is coming to a close, I find myself in hesitation of leaving it. The fragrance of a flower, the touch of soft youthful skin, even the grating of cheese across the blade hold my attention to the pleasures of this body, holding my spirit to this place. Enduring what must be endured to take in as much as possible in these final moments. The medicine dulls my pleasure as it dulls the pain. This fleeting pain is worth these miracles of living. Farewell, as I slip into my next costume and step upon a new stage."
G.H. (81 years old, Cerebral Atherosclerosis)
He feels bad about his choices in life. He is worried, ashamed, feels his mother is disappointed in him. He found out too late what was important in life.
His mother came to him with open arms, a loving heart and embraced him with joy. He felt small, undeserving and kept saying, "I'm sorry! I'm sorry I let you down." She told him, "Not so - my heart bursts with joy to see you. Your choices were for you, not for me. It will become clear to you. For now, just rest and be at peace in my arms. Feel my joy, my exhilaration being united with you."
same patient a week later (G.H.)
"Tired, so very tired, I just want to rest, to go to sleep." I asked what he would need to sleep? "To be at peace." What do you need to feel at peace? "For my heart to not be afraid of being wrong, my life being wrong." Who can help you with that? "My brother."
The brother immediately appeared saying, "I have been waiting for you," as he gently sat on the bed to hold the patient's hand. "You will soon know more than you can even imagine to ask and it will release your heart for the sunshine of happiness and joy to shine upon you and enter your very being. Take a breath in, let it out with a sigh and you are here. Welcome my dearest brother!"
J.U. (47 years old, car accident)
"I'm sorry to leave you this way Babe," were the words I heard him trying to convey to his wife. He did not feel fearful or have regrets of his life. He placed in my knowing that he simply wished he had done that day differently. He is accepting of what is. He will miss their life together. He will let go so she can let go.
P.J. (64 years old, Laryngeal Cancer)
"Enjoy life. Enjoy it all, the good and the bad. It is such a short time here. Live! Have a personal relationship with happiness - know it well. Be a friend to yourself. Be your own best friend."
M.B. (91 years old, Respiratory Failure)
Where were the wrinkles? Her skin appeared soft, smooth and supple. Her body still very present in size yet her breathing indicated otherwise. When asked if she had questions or needed anything, there was a curt response, "No." Any wisdom about life you would like to share, I asked? "Yes, don't listen to any buffoons that think they know about life."
I did not see that one coming!
What would you tell those left behind about life? "In the Good Book there are 10 laws, listen to them." Anything else you would like to add? "Yes, get on with your business."
Patient is sitting on a "dock of the bay" (that song is heard in the background during his SDE) with his toes in the water, gently stirring the surface as the ripples move away from him. He invites me to join him. We are watching the sunset, a most glorious sunset with amazing colors dancing before us. The feeling of beauty, gratitude, serenity, simplicity...being shared...words cannot describe the level of peace and tranquility felt. We watched in silence until it was time for him to go.
E.M. (52 years old, Intracerebral Hemorrhage)
Found her in a space filled with lots and lots of closed doors. She was overwhelmed and fearful of opening the "wrong" one. The thought came through me to share with her - all are locked except the one for you. Her relief was felt with this assurance. She began trying the doors till the knob turned in her hand. She looked over her shoulder as she transmitted a "thank you". She pushed the door open, disappearing through the doorway.
R.L. (74 years old, ALS)
She seems happy, accepting, she relates she finds joy in living. She placed within my knowing, "there is pleasure, beauty, and warmness in being." She became more through ALS. Her heart flourished when her body no longer could. When asked if this is true for those with ALS, she responded, "I only know my story but I do sense as with most illness, we all respond in our own way."
E.P. (14 years old, Intracranial Hemorrhage)
She is in a magical land with shimmering rainbows, mythical beings and creatures, and effervescent colors. She is OK, not frightened or fearful. She lets me know she would prefer to have her earthly life but is OK with what is.
A.L. (88 years old, Senile Degeneration of Brain)
Patient will push his body as far as it will go - to the "nth degree" to stay as long as he can to give his daughter time to accept her life without him. He had been her safety net through life. She was terrified and feeling all alone.
His message to her, "You are more than I could have ever imagined."
It was placed in my knowing - his love for her would be woven into a celestial safety net that would be with her throughout her life in ways he could not while he was in physical form.
The more we know about something, the less there is to fear. It is my desire, my hope, my dream to shine the light of awareness, of knowing on the Dying Process. It is not limited to how it appears physically...it is so much more!
Speaking Engagements & Education
Virginia Association for Hospice & Palliative Care
Keynote Speaker at Volunteer Conference for Volunteers and Volunteer Administrators
Meeting Everyday Challenges in Hospice Volunteering
"Care for the Unresponsive Dying Person"
(Williamsburg, VA - November 2018)
New Voices In Death Education Online Webinar
hosted by Karen Wyatt, MD of End of Life University, www.eoluniversity.com
"The Unresponsive Dying: Using a Different Frame of Reference"
WATCH FREE ONLINE WEBINAR AT:
Virginia Association for Hospice & Palliative Care
Round-Table Discussion and Education with Malynda
attended by MD, RNs, EOL Doulas, Chaplains, Volunteers, Social Workers, Administrators
"Serving the Unresponsive Dying"
(Richmond, VA - May 2018)
IANDS 2017 Conference: Explore the Extraordinary
"NDE - An Extraordinary Teacher for the Dying and Living"
Fear of pain (physical, emotional, mental, spiritual), suffering, loss of dignity and independence, isolation, and powerlessness are some of the most common mentioned concerns in leaving this physical reality (dying).
The NDE usually brings forth knowledge highlighting the tremendous feeling of Love, Serenity, Peace, Calmness and Coherence during the dying process. Knowledge overshadows the fear of the unknown as Serenity calms the angst and Love subdues the fear. Without fear of dying, there is more space for living.
(Westminster, CO - August 2017)
Attended an informal seminar and focus group with Dr. Raymond Moody hosted by Lisa Smartt
Dr. Raymond Moody, www.lifeafterlife.com
Lisa Smartt, www.finalwordsproject.org
The University of Heaven, www.theuniversityofheaven.com
(Georgia, August 2017)