Dr. Al Danenberg ● Nutritional Periodontist
March 19, 2023
Death is the beautiful end to life.
In New Orleans, death is celebrated with music, parades, and cheer. And that’s the way all of us should view this miracle at the end of life. Certainly, it should not be feared. And family should not be discouraged from discussing death with each other and with the one who is dying.
Sadly, when my dad was close to death, my mom never allowed my sister or me to discuss his imminent death. I wrote about my biggest regret when my dad passed HERE. My mom never allowed my dad to talk about his fears and dreams as he approached his transition. In my mom’s world, death was to be feared and never spoken of.
I knew I could never repeat my mom’s ignorance of the beauty of death.
Since my diagnosis of incurable bone marrow cancer in 2018, I have discussed my eventual death with my wife and adult children. It is not a secret topic. Open discussion reduces the fear and allows our emotions to be expressed. This has been a cathartic experience for me encouraging my spiritual awakening and growth.
So, the big question I grapple with is, “What is death all about?
End of life experiences have been documented for thousands of years. The soul plays a major role in the process of dying. And in most cultures, the soul is revered. At the end of this blog, I share several fascinating documented studies about the end of life. They brought me great comfort in understanding what happens next.
Today, hospice is a well-equipped, all-embracing, empathetic way of approaching the end of one’s life. The hospice team can provide care in the patient’s home. Staying at home in a loving and familiar place could make all the difference for the patient’s emotional comfort.
Hospice’s directive is to keep a person with a terminal illness comfortable until death. In addition, the hospice staff will support the entire immediate family by helping in many ways – both physically and emotionally.
When the time is right, the doctors and nurses of hospice will provide pain relief using various medications including opioids. Opioids progressively reduce severe pain and suppress respiration.
Dealing With a Loved One’s Death
Many family members may feel unprepared for the death of a loved one. This could lead to increased health costs and legal costs. In addition, being unprepared could lead to prolonged grief, emotional disturbances, sleep disorders, and guilt.
You can be better prepared for the death of your loved one if you understand what I have written in this paper. Ask yourself, “If my loved one were to die soon, how prepared would I be for his or her death?”
One of the benefits of hospice care as I mentioned already is that this organization also offers support for you. The hospice team will provide emotional and religious support as you require. They also will direct you to the necessary professionals to make sure financial and legal matters are set in place. The hospice professionals are available to answer all your questions about the preparations you must take. Approach hospice as a vital resource for the needs of your dying loved one as well as a resource for your needs to prepare you for the death of your loved one.
Prepare for Death
If you can think about your death, which may be imminent, you can prepare for it. Your goal should be to make your own death as comfortable, peaceful, and meaningful as possible. The following steps may make sense while preparing you and your immediate family for your ultimate moment:
- Make your wishes known. What are your goals? Share them with your loved ones. Be sure to complete the legal documents to assist your family. They include a last will and testament, a living will, a durable power of attorney, and a durable healthcare power of attorney. See to it that your financial matters are in order.
- If you are concerned about your funeral arrangement, make them yourself. Some will want to be buried; some may want to be cremated. If the decision is important to you, make the arrangements while you are alive.
- Welcome your wide range of emotions that you will experience after your diagnosis of a terminal illness. There will be moments of denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and finally acceptance.
- Review your life. Discuss your regrets, your accomplishments, your hopes, and your dreams. This can be a personal review that you have with yourself. Or it could be a review that you share with your loved ones. You could write down your thoughts, record them on video or audio, or just internalize your deepest thoughts. Your review will serve as your legacy of your life. During your review, consider including these active steps:
- Acknowledge the important people in your life.
- Recall the memorable events from your life.
- Apologize to those you love if you hurt them.
- Forgive those whom you love but have hurt you.
- Express your gratitude for all you have received.
- Say “I love you” and “Goodbye” to all who deserve your love.
- Educate yourself of the common end-of-life symptoms. Most people experience physical and psychological changes near their end of life. Most of these events can be addressed at home through the hospice care system. As I said, hospice’s goal is to make you comfortable while going through the death process as well as assisting your loved ones who are coping with your death.
Death is the beautiful end to life. To only mourn but never celebrate is an injustice to you and the deceased. As I shared in the opening of this Blog, I regret that I did not share in my dad’s transition from life to death. I never was allowed to discuss with my dad what was on his mind in his last stage of life. And my mom never allowed my dad to talk openly about his impending death. It saddens me to this day that there was no closure between my dad and me and his most inner thoughts!
But I learned two important lessons.
- Communication with one who is dying is powerful. Both the person who is dying and the family must be able to share in this natural endpoint of living.
- The soul is immortal and will transition out of the mortal body to return to its home leading to the Almighty.
More Than a Mortal Life
Dr. Christopher Kerr
Is there more to mortal life than what we experience here on earth in our physical body? Dr. Christopher Kerr suggests that the dreams of his dying patients may give a glimpse into that ethereal, spiritual world.
Dr. Kerr is the Chief Medical Officer and Chief Executive Officer for Hospice & Palliative Care Buffalo. In 2020 he published his book, Death Is But a Dream: Finding Hope and Meaning at Life’s End. In his book, Dr. Kerr interviewed over 1400 patients who were in hospice. All his patients have two things in common – they are dying, and they know it. These extraordinary people have dreams, but they are not regular dreams. Many of his patients describe their dreams to be “more real than real”.
Are these dreams just the mind over-experiencing its memories, or responding to drugs, or being affected from a biochemical process in the dying mind. Or are these dreams coming from a higher place and a spiritual source? Those who are dying express comfort in their dreams and feel transcendence into a state of calm and acceptance.
Many of those hospice patients who were interviewed by Dr. Kerr see visions of deceased loved ones positioned around their death beds. Visitors in the room cannot see the entities who are real to the hospice patient.
Dr. Brian Weiss
In 1988, Brian Weiss, MD, a psychiatrist, published Many Lives, Many Masters. This was a life chronicle of his patient, whom he calls Catherine, and her many reincarnations. Many of the details of Catherine’s experiences during her almost 100 lifetimes over thousands of years have been fact checked by Dr. Weiss.
Dr. Michael Newton
Dr. Michael Newton was a hypnotherapist who died in 2016. He authored two excellent books that detail his research regarding the immortal soul – Journey of Souls and Destiny of Souls. He interviewed over 7,000 patients along his extensive career using “past life regression hypnosis”. This is a technique where a patient is guided into a state of deep hypnosis and then can recall “past lives” they have lived. During these hypnotic regressions, his patients also recounted their experiences of spiritual “life between lives”.
Dr. Newton’s patients confirmed that human souls were created by an incomprehensibly superior, all-encompassing power. They described in detail that a soul exists within a physical body here on earth, and a soul’s purpose is to experience important lessons – so many life lessons. After death, our soul returns to its spiritual home with other souls. After a while, the soul may return in various human physical bodies many times at its discretion to complete its learning process. Eventually, all human souls will go to the same place to become One with the Ultimate Creator of the cosmos.
For me, the most amazing discoveries from Dr. Newton’s work were that the people he guided into a hypnotic state had similar experiences once in the hypnotic state. However, his patients had many diverse backgrounds – some were religious, some were agnostic, and a few were atheists. They were from all walks of life and varied educational backgrounds. Yet all had similar descriptions of their “life between lives” once they were in a state of deep hypnosis and entered their superconscious mind.
Dr. Ray Moody and Robert Monroe
Other evidence of life after death was documented in the writings of researchers like Dr. Raymond Moody and Robert Monroe. Both Dr. Moody’s book, Life After Life, and Robert Monroe’s book, Ultimate Journey, explain the beauty and marvel of our soul’s home in the universe.
Dr. Elisabeth Kübler-Ross
Dr. Elisabeth Kübler-Ross had a strong believe that we are more than our physical body. She said, “Death is simply a shedding of the physical body like the butterfly shedding its cocoon. It is a transition to a higher state of consciousness where you continue to perceive, to understand, to laugh, and to be able to grow.”
Dr. Kübler-Ross was a Swiss-American psychiatrist, a pioneer in near-death studies, and author of the internationally best-selling book, On Death and Dying (1969). In this book, she elaborated on the Kübler-Ross Model – a method that explains the five stages the terminally ill will go through as they experience dying. As I mentioned, these stages are denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. And loved ones around the dying person also will experience these stages.
Dr. Kübler-Ross was a powerful intellectual force who helped create the hospice system in the United States, which I discussed earlier. Dr. Kübler-Ross helped turn the investigation of physical, psychological, and social problems associated with dying into an accepted medical discipline. In 1998, Dr. Percy Wooten (at that time, he was the president of the American Medical Association) said, “Dr. Elisabeth Kübler-Ross was a true pioneer in raising the awareness among the physician community and the general public about the important issues surrounding death, dying and bereavement”.
As a person enters the last moments of conscious life, the mind continues to function. The mind is the manifestations of thought, perception, emotion, determination, memory, and imagination that take place within the physical structure of the brain.
As a matter of fact, the mind can still hear when other signs of death have occurred.
To this end, the Monroe Institute and Dr. Elisabeth Kübler-Ross have produced a specialized audio series with guided imagery for the caregiver and the dying person to listen to even after “death” has clinically occurred. The series is called, Going Home. They help an individual who is dying to transition in a positive way. They also aid caregivers who are tending to the person who is dying.
Here are three links to the compact discs of Going Home: HERE, HERE, HERE.
If you are in a situation where death is imminent or anticipated, I highly recommend these audio recordings to ease the transition from life to death. Since the mind continues to function after physical death, the guided imagery of this series of CDs will assist the transition of the spirit from the mortal body to its immortal home.
Your Comments & Questions
“End of life” discussions are important subjects which demand more attention. They have been swept under the rug for so long. I would love to read your comments and questions. Let’s bring them out into the open for all to read. Just enter them below in the Comments Section. I will do my best to answer all your questions.
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One of ur best posts yet. Thanks buddy. I just downloaded Death Is But a Dream: Finding Hope and Meaning at Life’s End.
It’s important for people to know there are for profit Hospices and not-for profit Hospices. I had talked with Hospice volunteers in the ’90’s. who were very caring. I also had a 2nd cousin who was a Hospice nurse. And a dear friend was an eleventh hour Hospice volunteer. So when I hired a Hospice for each of my parents I was expecting great care and support.. The adult family home (where my parents were at the same time ) recommended I go with the Hospice they’d worked with for years. The caregivers at the adult family home were very caring and hard working so I trusted the administrator’s suggestion. But as time went on my brothers and I were noticing things that weren’t what we had expected and they weren’t good. We changed to a different Hospice for our mom after Dad passed. But they too were terrible. It wasn’t until after both parents passed 2 years apart that I learned not all Hospices are non-profit. With the non-profits it’s mostly volunteers who have high empathy and who care about helping others. That’s why they volunteer. My brothers and I didn’t know the Hospices we used were for profit. They were terrible. This was in Southern California.
My brothers and I were very vulnerable to being misled while handling both our parents’ end of life at the same time. It was overwhelming at times and those for profit companies took advantage of us.
When Dad was near the end in 2017, Susan, we had Family Services hospice referred from Desert Oasis Healthcare here in desert. The staff they sent were so wonderful…especially a kind, sweet soul named Lady who gently and lovingly assisted me for an hour or so 3 days a week with Dad’s care. A drop in bucket, but was I ever grateful for that. As a F/T 24/7/365 caregiver for BOTH parents, I found her to be a godsend for even that brief time. The medical staff were relatively absent, but that may have been due to our medical knowledge after handling alot of this over 6 years. We didn’t need much of their help. But I do wish someone had advised better about oral care, as that was sorely lacking and was an issue towards the end. So sorry your experiences were not good. It is a difficult enough time without added stressors!
I am almost 77 and in fairly good health, but I am almost clueless as to what to do about end of life matters. I have no husband or children, and my sister and brother live far away from me. I have few close friends, only one in my state and she lives an hour away. There is no one physically close to me who can be a caretaker or Power of Attorney or Executor or Health Agent. My income is very low so hiring a lawyer is out of the question. I have not filled out any of the necessary paperwork needed prior to my death, but I know I must do that. I really don’t want to inconvenience my family or friend but how will any of my care issues be taken care of if I don’t inconvenience them? It’s very hard living alone with no one to be there for you if you become seriously ill or die. I suppose most people would say I’m in denial. They’re probably correct.
Allowed cookies, set site exception and everything but will not allow me to post replies! Frustrating.
I always get so much out of reading your articles. This was a beautifully written and powerful post. Thank you!