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Thread: People who are Dying

  1. #1
    Member shogyo's Avatar
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    People who are Dying

    In my work I frequently have to spend time with people who are dying and their close ones. Mostly these people are not from Buddhist backgrounds and especially not Zen.

    I live in an area where there is no local Zen Buddhist support and regard Tree Leaf as my sangha. I am aware of the amazing work being undertaken at Upaya in the United States to support people working with people who are dying and I would like to improve my ability to help people go through this important transition especially from a zen perspective.

    Does anyone have any experiences on how they have worked in this area from a zen perspective or have any pointers to people working within our tradition in this area?

    Gassho
    Brian

  2. #2

    Re: People who are Dying

    Yes, Brian, no need to talk, teach or preach. No need to pray, wish or hope. Be with him. Be with her. Take his hand. Take her hand. Give a drop of water. Shut up. Go along, along. all the way.

    Don't be Buddhist. Don't judge.

    Allow.

    Anything else is extra.

    Be yourself.

    Who are you?...


    Taigu

  3. #3

    Re: People who are Dying

    Quote Originally Posted by shogyo
    In my work I frequently have to spend time with people who are dying and their close ones. Mostly these people are not from Buddhist backgrounds and especially not Zen.

    I live in an area where there is no local Zen Buddhist support and regard Tree Leaf as my sangha. I am aware of the amazing work being undertaken at Upaya in the United States to support people working with people who are dying and I would like to improve my ability to help people go through this important transition especially from a zen perspective.

    Does anyone have any experiences on how they have worked in this area from a zen perspective or have any pointers to people working within our tradition in this area?

    Gassho
    Brian
    Hi Brian,

    To second what Taigu just posted ...

    My wife and I volunteered at a hospice care center for about 8 years, before we came back to Japan. Most of the families were not Buddhist (there were only 1 or 2 in all those years), so I did not bring that into it at all. Talking to the dying and family members was based on simply deep listening, being present with them, holding hands and lending an ear and warm heart, more than bringing any religious philosophy into it. As a matter of fact, I made it a point (and we were all trained) not to discuss my own particular views of the universe, and just listen to their thoughts and feelings. The most important "Buddhist" aspect was just to be present, to show compassion and kindness. That was it and, really, all the hospice volunteers and staff did so, whatever their religious or personal philosophy.

    It was a surprisingly joyous and happy place, by the way, much of the time. Not what many would expect.

    But you are right, the Upaya project is probably the most advanced on the subject. In the US, this group is also quite active ...

    http://www.zenhospice.org/

    I stumbled on these folks in your part of the world. You may want to contact them and see what is available in the UK..

    The Buddhist Hospice Trust is an unaffiliated Buddhist organisation and a registered charity. The Trust exists to meet the needs of seriously ill, dying or bereaved Buddhists (and non-Buddhists in sympathy with its aims) for spiritual support and companionship. The Trust operates via a nationwide network of volunteers from all Buddhist schools and traditions, serving all who seek its support and help.

    The Buddhist Hospice Trust acts as a bridge to hospices and providers of palliative care services for Buddhist organisations and individuals. It provides an a Buddhist advisory and consultative service on hospice and palliative care issues to the wider community, and on Buddhist perspectives on living and dying.
    http://www.buddhisthospice.org.uk/
    http://buddhisthospice.blogspot.com/

    Gassho, Jundo

  4. #4

    Re: People who are Dying

    Hi Brian,

    This link might also have some useful information: http://www.zen.org.au/

    gassho,

    JohnH

  5. #5

    Re: People who are Dying

    yes, taigu's post is right there -- i expect you already know this -- all thats ever needed in therapy is to be present, but this is one of those times when it is so needed, because of the temptation to run away, into theory, into technique, into planning -- into self-abuse for not doing the perfect job of caring

    gassho, roky

  6. #6
    Member shogyo's Avatar
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    Re: People who are Dying

    thank you for your kind comments my experiences here have ranged from the gentle experiences that Jundo and Taigu highlight to much more challenging ones. These especially, although not always, relate to the families and friends who may be experiencing all kinds of negative experiences often falling out between themselves. I am comfortable with being with people who are dying, perhaps I've had too much experience, unfortunately I often have to deal with situations where I have no choice but to act often where people are becoming unable to deal with the situation themselves and are becoming aggressive or abusive either towards themselves,their family members, the dying person or the staff involved in trying to care.

    I personally find this a much harder place to work as the emotional experiences are so raw for people and they do not often come to terms with the experiences that are engulfing them. I suppose this fundamentally comes down to a question of how do I engage in right speech and right action in situations where people are very emotional and volatile. I understand that it is not my place to judge people but all I can do is try to help in an area that I feel is important to try to practice the Buddhist precepts.

    gassho
    shogyo

  7. #7

    Re: People who are Dying

    I am a nurse and i work in a place where we get a lot of palliative patients that are about to day so i deal with death on a daily basis.
    i have given some thought to what you asked before answering so here it goes...

    you asked how to use Buddhism to work with people who are dying, there is no Buddhist thing you could say to help the grief of the people who have just lost a loved one. but there is something that you can remember that will let you handle it more easily and help you deal with the situation... just accept it, Jundo talks about it often acceptance without acceptance is the secret here. just remember that life and death are not 2 but they are one... all just a natural part of living in this world we live in. ultimately there is no way to separate them since they are all just part of the same thing.

    as for what you should do regarding to the dying and their families just be human, not a Buddhist or Jewish or Christian or Muslim or Hindu or whatever... just be human. what people need most of all is to feel human and not left alone, some want attention, some want sympathy while others want to be treated like they are regular people and get no special treatment of any kind. be observant, and open minded. see their needs and try to do the best you can to make this time easier and more pleasant for them. and by doing so you are being Buddhist... the 3 pure precepts...

    do no evil
    do good
    do good for others

    and if you think of it being human and being Buddhist is really the same thing.

    Gassho, Dojin ( your brother in the Dharma )

  8. #8
    Member shogyo's Avatar
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    Re: People who are Dying

    Thank you Dojin. it is good to have you as a brother in the dharma

    gassho
    shogyo

  9. #9

    Re: People who are Dying

    My Pleasure Shogyo.

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