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Varying Concepts on Death and Dying

Aug 17, 2007
We have been offered as many approaches to death and dying as we have religions, philosophies and direct experiences. Throughout a long life, each of us may even evolve though a series of beliefs in what it is that most of us can't fathom; namely, death.

The door of this off-putting subject is now being opened by a new breed, the Hospice Professional, who attends to the needs of those on the brink and their families. Also, psychologists offering grief counseling are available to most of us when we know the day is fast approaching for someone near and dear to leave.

It seems like another very good way to prepare for eventually greeting the Great Specter is to discuss end of life issues with the employees of nursing homes and other such jumping off spots. There can be, according to some of the amazing people I have talked with, a huge difference between what patients say they believe and how they act as they come to the end of their lives. Some who profess to have a solid hold on the promises of an afterlife are terrified and some who have no formal belief structure approach and deal with it in a candidly, unabashed manner. It seems to be a "put your money where your mouth is" moment.

Books aplenty lead us into the labyrinths of near-death experiences and even offer to direct us on how to die with aplomb. Most appreciated by me to date are "On Death and Dying" by Elizabeth Kubler-Ross, "Aaron's Crossing" by Linda Dewey, "The Tibetan Book on Living and Dying" by Sogyal Rinpoche, "Autobiography of a Yogi" by P. Yogananda, and "Testimony of Light" by Helen Graves. Not all of these books deal exclusively with the subject of death and the possibility of an afterlife. Still, I found Yoganada's treatise to be exceptionally deep...even though the subject is but one of the many issues he addressed.

Earlier generations often asked their parents, teachers and religious leaders about death and many took what was offered as the unadulterated truth. Now, the people I talk with seem more willing to find their own answers and to only factor in their earlier teachings if they seem to fit. There are, of course, legions, that do not choose to address the subject before, during, and maybe even after the event.

Once the subject of death and it's possible ramifications is seriously broached, it can become engrossing and, depending on how the following research goes, even rewarding. When we take the unwritten taboo off of any subject, the opportunity can arise for it to become manageable.
About the Author
Luise Volta's life has included careers in nursing, teaching pre-school, interior design, Real Estate sales, insurance adjusting, and dairy herd testing. Visit for Death and Afterlife.
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