Living with the Dying

Death has been on my mind a lot lately as my Mother is in the process of dying. My Mother who was bigger than life is now a small wisp of a thing. Silent.

She has to be turned every couple of hours so as to prevent bedsores and has stopped eating and drinking. Her time is short.

Over the past few years of my sisters and I coming to terms with her going; wondering if ‘today is the day’, the sudden phone calls, the crying, the hand-wringing Skype calls, the miraculous recoveries only for the whole topsy-turvy mouse wheel to start over again – has left us, to be honest, exhausted.

Which I am finding helpful.

I really don’t have the energy to get all emotionally enrolled in what’s going on. I’ve been through it all already it seems. So now, I feel I can just be, with what is. That’s all that I can do.

During times like this, we can find great support in our practices. In Sanskrit Mantra we can help ourselves and our loved ones making the great journey to the next by repeating a wonderful Mantra to Vishnu.


This Mantra salutes the all-pervading aspect of God that is anchored in our hearts and the hearts of all beings. It destroys barriers, obstacles, afflictions and difficulties. It also helps the dying make their transition.

This Mantra should only be said for someone who is actively dying. It is helpful to repeat it for 11 days after they pass, helping their soul make the transition peacefully and smoothly.

I have had a few experiences with death. My ex-father-in-law died in my arms. It was such a different experience than that of my own father. In my own father’s case, I missed his actual death by ten minutes – I got lost driving to the hospital – after flying 14 hours to Dublin from Los Angeles. There in his hospital room, I just felt numb and empty.

But with my ex-father-in-law, it was an exhilarating experience. He had wanted to die, he was ready. I could feel his energy, after his body stopped breathing, spring out of his body and jump through the door and dance down the hallway – jumping, touching his heels together in the air.  He was ecstatic. And so was I for him. So much so, that I had to hide in the hospital broom closet, so my joy wouldn’t be misunderstood by the family.

Death doesn’t have to be a sombre sad event. It is freeing.

When the Dalai Lama was asked about his own death, how he felt about it – Buddhists believe that the moment right before death is most important, as it is the clarity of your mind at this moment that decides the predicament of your next life. So, they do rigorous practices to prepare themselves for this moment -He seemingly chuckled to himself and said that he was very much looking forward to it!

So, though this time with my mother is challenging, I really aspire to stay mindful that this is a great moment in her life and in mine. It is a liberation for her from all of her suffering and a great opportunity for me to practice staying in the moment. In the present. In now.

This is it – these are the moments that are so precious.

With Love,

Aly M. Dunne

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *