Help someone die

trigger warning, I will be talking about my nan dying

Sorry if this is in the wrong section or not relevant for Night Club but I don’t yet have a spiritual group and I feel a lot of you may have read a lot or have experience in this area.

My nan is dying. She has always been a fighter, fears death and has never wanted to talk about it in the past. She is now bedbound and slipping in and out of consciousness. She has great longterm memory but her head is so muddled and confused in the short term. At the moment we are in cycles of her waking up, looking scared, asking if she is dying, us saying she has been very poorly but she is okay and we are with her and she doesn’t need to work anything out, just rest. She looks comforted by that and I try and hold her hand and stroke her. She looks like a small child. I just want her to not be scared. I know people die. We all have too but not scared. I wonder what she dreams about and if she will be scared in bardo.

I feel utterly helpless but also a little upset with myself for not trying to talk about all the amazing stuff I’ve been looking into surrounding Buddhism, dreams, bardo, death etc. I feel it is too late and would do more harm than good to bring it up now as she is very weak, confused and (I feel) slipping in and out of weird dreams/bardo experiences. I’ve not had someone close die and it has forced me to confront the fact that in the West, we are amazing at physical well being (she is on lot’s of powerful pain medication) but we have nothing in place for the spiritual well being. I feel so bad skirting around her ‘am I dying question’ but my family think she will panic if we say anything. My mum has told her that even if she was she will see all her loeved ones on the other side. To be honest she probably can’t take much in.

Anyway, enough of the rant. My question is this. Do any of you have any advice on what little I can do for her now? Have you read or experienced anything that may help? I got some essential oils and put it on a scarf as I think the smells might help calm her dreams. I’m trying to get a device to play nature sounds in her room. Has anyone read the Tibetan book of dying? Any tips in there?

One thing I will take away from this is I will try and talk to my family more about this and read way more on the experience of dying.

For anyone else interested in death. This video really opened my eyes:

Many thanks


Just be with her without trying to change and work out her experience. You can’t possibly know her process. Your presence is the important thing. Do tonglen practice if you know why. She probably knows she is dying, not confirming it when she asks may be confusing and isolating for her. At least reassure her that you will be with her if you don’t want to take on telling her the truth. In situation I have been in, telling the truth was calming for the person dying. She may also be confused by the medication. I will dedicate my meditation today to all of you.


I meant to say to do tonglen if you know how. In addition My experience with death was as a doctor, a sister, a daughter and now a niece. I am ethnically and culturally Italian and that may have colored my approach.


Sorry to hear about your experience. Tonglen is what comes to mind too…

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