7.3.5 What will happen to me in my last weeks of life

What will happen to me in my last weeks of life?

A Tibetan Buddhist Perspective [1]

The Buddha taught that dying and death is a very important transition to the next life, and that if we want the best chance to return with a happy human rebirth, that we should try to die peacefully and with virtuous thoughts, for example, feeling gratitude for the help your carers have given so selflessly in your last weeks.

Signs of approaching death can include one or more of the following: profoundly weak, essentially bed-bound, kidneys and liver deteriorate, toxins start to accumulate, no excretions, can’t swallow, disinterested in food or drink, drowsy for extended periods, disoriented with time, short attention span.

Terms you may hear used by the nurses and doctors, and how some palliative care nurses and Tibetan Buddhists interpret them, are the following: peripheral shutdown (extremities cold – not painful), terminal dehydration (actually creates euphoric feeling), terminal dyspnoea (frightening – may require morphine to help breathing), terminal restlessness (life review, spiritual struggle, extra morphine – terminal sedation – not necessary).

[1] Contents of this web page prepared by Len Warren of Pure Land of the Indestructible Buddha, Hayagriva Buddhist Centre, 64 Banksia Terrace, Kensington 6151 Western Australia, September 2017.

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