My 83-year-old aunt, Sylvia, is on her deathbed. Just this week, her cancer became more aggressive. Her body is weak, she can barely muster the strength to talk, she isn’t eating and she can only tolerate a few sips of liquid at a time. She calls for her momma (my grandmother, Fanny) for hours at night and cries that she wishes she were dead.
I found a wonderful Buddhist guide with sensible, comforting advice on how to act around a dying person. It has helped me to communicate well with Sylvia during the last couple of days.
I’ve never spent so much time with someone so close to death. When my father was dying over twenty years ago, I saw him once a week and wasn’t as spiritual or psychological as I’ve become. (Not that I’m exactly Mahatma Gandhi now, mind you!)
I thought, as I was sitting next to Sylvia this morning, how similar a dying person is to a newborn, so helpless. I know this concept isn’t original, but I bring it up because it is chillingly true.