Abstract: There are things we can do to prepare for the death of a beloved—and the grief that accompanies it. In this two-part series on preparing for the death of a beloved I offer tips to help navigate the coming death. Part 1 covers taking care of everyone else. Part 2 covers taking care of yourself. Material is condensed from my upcoming book, “The Afterlife Is a Party: What People and Animals Teach Us About Love, Reincarnation, and the Other Side.”
Whether a human or animal family member is dying, the living have work to do: you’re grieving, possibly in shock, and trying to figure out what to do to help yourself, your family, and your dying beloved get through it.
In the first article of this two-part series on preparing for death and grief, I covered how to prepare others for a beloved’s death. Here I’m offering simple, but necessary, things you need to do to keep yourself healthy and balanced as you support the living—and the dying. These are things we don’t usually think about, so let’s get to them.
Don’t Buy into the Guilt
The current medical establishment believes that fighting death, no matter the odds or the suffering involved, is more important than a life well lived and a death gently met. Someday the system will grow up. In the meantime, you be a grown-up for it. Pain, suffering, and disability are cruel things. You will know when enough is enough. You cannot beat death. You can make it acceptable—even glorious.
If you live somewhere where humans can choose to end their lives, discuss this option with beloveds and support their choice. For your animals, yes, you’ll feel bad if you resort to euthanasia and you haven’t sorted through the whys and why-nots with them, yourself, and the rest of the family. You’ll feel bad if you don’t and drag out an ending that causes misery for no good reason. You’ll feel bad, regardless.
Take steps to support yourself by figuring out what the limits are for both the dying and the living. Walk away from anyone who tries to make you feel guilty for choosing to meet death on your own terms and supporting your dying beloveds the same way. Hospice is learning, even with animals, but be careful of animal hospice, because some of those people still don’t understand mercy.
Figure out what love looks like to you and to the rest of the family, from the first day to the last. Cling to it.
We can get caught up in thinking about the past and the future—about what life was like before dying showed up, and what it will be like afterwards. That’s normal, but be careful: don’t miss the “now” of the dying process. Walk the mystery with your beloveds. You’ll be exhilarated and crushed, but you’ll also never regret it. And you know what? I’m a medium, so I can assure you that your dead won’t, either.
Caught up in our beloved’s dying process, we often forget to take care of ourselves first, a mistake that can lead to illness and despair. We can’t help ourselves, our dying, or others, especially children, if we’re worn out. Take time for yourself, whatever that means in the moment: take a walk, a nap, or time to think; light a candle; dance; read a book; sleep; eat. It’s important. Put aside your ego, that part of you that thinks you can tough it out and go it alone or ignore your needs. It’s not just okay to be vulnerable, to need support, to bolster mind, body, and spirit—it’s part of the job of being human, especially when a beloved is dying.
Remember: everyone involved, including you, needs you to put yourself first, if for no other reason than you can’t help them, or yourself, if you don’t.
You stay sane by letting out the fear, anger, grief, and everything else you’re feeling as you helplessly watch a beloved die, so schedule time to do just that. Try starting with twenty-minute blowouts: set a timer and scream, yell, cry, throw things, whatever it takes to vent. When the buzzer goes off, dry your eyes, buck up, and get back to your living and dying beloveds. Yes, it works, before and after a death. I’m proof.
Did these tips surprise you? They’re so basic you probably realized they’re part of your consciousness. Also realize you can easily bypass them when you’re caught in a crushing moment, and there are few things more crushing than a beloved’s impending death. It’s hard to think straight when the experience is before you, so take some time to consider it now, while there’s time. I promise it will help.
Robyn M Fritz MA MBA CHt hosts the OM Times radio show, “The Practical Intuitive: Mind Body Spirit for the Real World.” An intuitive and spiritual consultant and certified past life regression specialist, she is an award-winning author whose next book is “The Afterlife Is a Party: What People and Animals Teach Us About Love, Reincarnation, and the Other Side.” Find her at RobynFritz.com.