How Deep Is Your Love-Letting Go When Death Comes By Nancy Oakes

How Deep Is Your Love-Letting Go When Death Comes


The First 72 hours

From the moment I arrived at the hospital I knew things looked serious.  There before me were my dear friends of over 20 years.   He on life support, lying lifeless in a coma within a hospital ICU unit, and she stroking his hand, speaking ever so softly to her husband of 40 years.   The diagnosis was, a severe brain aneurysm in the center of his brain interfering with cognitive skills.  We felt he could hear us as a few signs were apparent, however at only one time he followed a few simple commands.

How could this be?  I had just seen him a few months ago, and he was doing great. Known to embrace health, well being, a regiment of diet, balance and absence of excess, I called him Mr. Pro-biotic...he was always recommending them. Loved by all his friends, still working at 72 and planning to take a cruise with family and friends, always talking about the next project or dream.

Life became now an unfamiliar world of ventilators, heart monitors, IV’s and compression socks.  A world of strange people, doctors and nurses each with a title and an introduction.   Respitory, dietary, cardiac, brain surgeons, technicians conducting frequent blood draws, CT scans and angiograms.   Occasionally she is asked to step out while nurses turn and bathe her husband. There is no way to determine if her husband would survive, nor how much damage was done.

Daddy Needs Rest 

My dear friend realized she alone had to make a decision about the life of her husband, and she knew what her husband would want.  He would never want to live in such a way or even to remain in such an undignified state.  It was becoming very obvious that he possibly was not going to recover and if he did he would have great difficulty.  Eventually she requested a DNR (do not resuscitate document). Later upon seeing the DNR bracelet, she turned it over not see the letters staring her in the face. When their daughter saw it and shuddered, she said, "It means "Daddy Needs Rest".

 Guidance From The Ancient Scripts

 She began reading passages to him from the Tibetan Book of the Dead for guidance, and reviewed the 49 days of transition as ceremony for his journey. The ancient script speaks of encouraging those who are dying to go to the light and avoid any darkness.  


Outside of his presence she spoke to family and friends about how she knew that he would not want to remain in this body if he could not recover.  She shared with all that this was possibly the end of his life, and therefore she wanted only what was best for him and his journey.  With love she put his desires first. 

She decided she was not going to cry when she was in his presence.  She asked everyone who came into the room to refrain from crying near him, and to please not speak to him about staying in this body.  She encouraged everyone to simply tell him how is loved and his life has and always will be appreciated.

The energy in the room soon changed not only for him, but also for the ones in attendance to his life and the journey he was embarking on.  These days were later seen as a blessing at a time of preparation for both him and the family. 

She continued reading passages from the Tibetan Book of the Dead about peaceful transitions and instructing him to go to the light, when he was ready to go.  She spoke to him about being brave and not be afraid of any loud and disturbing noises, to avoid the smoky lights and seek the bright light he would recognize and know to be the true light.  Further she discussed issues of his life, and encouraged him to have proper control of those issues in his mind during deaths process, in other words things dealing with karma.  

We believed that he was spending more time out of his body than in it for his movements of all types had nearly ceased, seldom even a flinch.   She continued to read to him, and upon arriving each morning would put lotion on his body, especially his feet, as she knew how he liked that. 

 The Shining

A friend spoke a great blessing for her, and the family-He said, “No matter what the outcome, HE WILL COME OUT SHINING!”   That statement gave her great courage for soon she would present to her family the time is coming to end the life support measures.  

A full week had past since she found him in their bathroom, called 911 and eventually arrived at the ICU unit.   She spoke of his life, and how much she loved him, and their lovely daughter whom they loved beyond life itself.   She laughed about their escapades over the years and his adventures spirit that at some times got them into trouble; like the trip to a far away jungle paradise when they were young.  She said, “You know I have to let him go, he would hate this body he is trapped in.”  Peace, love, compassion, dignity,and grace were her only desires for him.  Therefore, she said, "Letting go is what is right for him and his soul regardless of not wanting him to leave this plane."

Letting Go 

She met with hospital social workers and doctors about her decision to let him go, and gave everyone time to have peace about his transitions.  Then it was time, as the nurses administered something that would help him to be more comfortable, all life support was removed from his body. 

She continued to read passages from the Tibetan Book of the Dead to him. "Help me to cross the Bardo's dangerous pathway, and bring me to the perfect Buddha state... And bring me to the perfect Buddha state," she would repeat the last line each time. 

 The morning of the eleventh day, breathe stopped, his hand was in her hand for his last heartbeats, and he left his body peaceably only nine hours later.  All through the night his wife, daughter and sister stayed with him, holding each hand. singing gently, "I love you, I love you, I love you."  Indeed he was not the only one "shining", as they wished him on to the light.  

And the Buddha said:

This existence of ours is as transient as autumn clouds

To watch the birth and death of beings is like looks at the movement of a dance

A lifetime is like a flash of lightning in the sky

Rushing by, like a torrent down a steep mountain


*1-The Bardo Thotrol is a Tibetan Buddhist scripture told within the Tibetan Book of the Dead.  Old as the tradition itself, it concerns the mind and its projections-beautiful or terrible, peaceful or wrathful, in particular projections as they appear immediately after death.  The understanding is that the consciousness is no longer grounded by a physical body, and reading the scripture aloud to the dying helps to attain liberation, and provides spiritual understanding for the ones left behind.

*2- a passage from the Tibetan Book of the Living and Dying-Sogyal Rinpoche


 Nancy Oakes is the CEO of the "Spiritual Life Style Wellness Center." Her first book is available on, The Return of Sophia, Mother of the Universe. Nancy is an ally for the "Third Gender" LGBT communities. When our hearts are filled with love and we embrace all sacred creation humanity will witness the shift to a higher consciousness and arrive in the new world.







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