“At the end of life, our questions are very simple… Did I live fully? Did I love well?” ― Jack Kornfield
“Life is not separate from death. It only looks that way.” – Native American Saying
Many people fear death, in part, because they do not know what if anything will follow. It has long been believed that spirituality/religiousness provides an explanation and thus can be very comforting to the dying. But, there has been very little systematic empirical research investigating the relationship of spirituality/religiousness to the experiences of the dying.
It is very common for dying individuals to have transcendent experiences. It has been estimated that over half of all conscious dying people have these kinds of experiences. Although there are a wide variety of transcendent experiences they all have in common that they are experiences that are beyond the self and/or beyond empirical physical reality. There have been only a small number of empirical research studies into these phenomena and their relationship to the dying process.
In today’s Research News article “A Thematic Literature Review: The Importance of Providing Spiritual Care for End-of-Life Patients Who Have Experienced Transcendence Phenomena”
Broadhurst and Harrington summarize the research on the effect on the dying individual of having experienced transcendent phenomena.
They found that the literature suggested that transcendence experiences provided psychological strength, peace of mind, and spiritual well-being. This was opposed to hallucinations which produced anxiety, fear, and confusion. The comfort produced by the transcendence experiences also affected the family and the caregivers causing them to feel better about the situation.
They also found that people who have had transcendence experiences had more peaceful and calm deaths. They also found more spiritual meaning in their lives producing greater inner peace. Finally they were better able to deal with unfinished business in their lives, particularly to mend family conflicts. This also led to greater inner peace.
It is clear that spirituality and transcendence experiences are important at the endo of life and can have highly beneficial effects on the dying, the family, and even the caregivers. It is unfortunate that doctors, nurses, and other caregivers have little or no training or experience with end of life spirituality let alone transcendence experiences of the dying. Hence, it is important that this be include in the training of future professionals so that they can better understand and work with the spiritual needs and experiences of the dying.
So, welcome spiritual and transcendence experiences in the dying and help them to a more meaningful, peaceful, and calm passing.
“When you were born, you cried and the world rejoiced.
Live your life so that when you die, the world cries and you rejoice.” – Native American Saying