Embracing Another's Death as Beautiful

Dear Barbara, I live with a friend who has non curative cancer. I want to learn how to embrace this as something beautiful.

We are such a death denying society your question startled me. We tend to only see the ugly through our fear filled eyes so I had to really think about my response.

How to embrace approaching death as something beautiful? Here are my thoughts:

  • The more you learn about end of life, what happens, what it looks like, the less fear you will bring to the experience and with less fear you can get glimpses of beauty. Our movie role models of how people die show us one picture of dying but when we see real death and it doesn’t look as neat and tidy as television or the movies we think something is wrong. In understanding what real dying looks like we can be more of a support person and guide.
  • The body generally does not do beautiful things as death approaches, but with the right eyes watching you can often see the beauty of the personality and spirit shine through.
  • The saying "beauty is in the eyes of the beholder" holds true here. Often our grief, our guilt, our regrets, and our fear blocks us from seeing the serenity which itself is a form of beauty.
  • Seeing a life threatening illness as a gift of time. Time to do, time to address, time to say. 
  • Be there. It won't be what you say that really matters but being a supportive, "I’ll-talk-about-anything-or-just-sit-and-be-with-you," kind of person that can make this a beautiful experience for both of you.

I’m not sure we can find actual beauty in dying, our grief gets in the way of seeing actual beauty in the moment, but I think we can find serene understanding. Understanding that this particular life is ending, no matter how much we don’t want it to. Understanding that death is part of life’s cycle (we are born, we experience, and then we die). Understanding that we did the best we could to support our special person during this life challenge.

Something More About...  Embracing Another's Death as Beautiful

To understand the dying process and what to expect, I encourage you to have GONE FROM MY SIGHT: The Dying Experience. It will be your best friend as you care for your friend during the months, weeks, days and hours before death. Make sure that you have the companion book THE ELEVENTH HOUR: A Caring Guideline for the Hours to Minutes Before Death. This booklet tells you what you can do for your friend during the final days, hours, minutes, seconds and just after death. Losing someone so dear will be difficult. Be sure to have MY FRIEND, I CARE: The Grief Experience to support you as you begin your bereavement journey.

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7 comments

Sarah

Thank you Barbara for all the wonderful advise you always give. I am a nurse in a large retirement community. We have independent living, assisted living, memory care unit ( where I work as a nurse) a skilled unit and rehab unit. I found you 3 years ago when I was looking for info on death and dying as my dad was diagnosed with stage 4 melanoma at age 87.. he was doing fairly well but started to need help with bathing.. I reached out to a hospice service his VA recommended and it was amazing. I am now dealing with 3 of my residents in the memory care unit declining rapidly. I have talked to the families about hospice, shared your website and they were so relieved to finally have someone approach them about hospice because they were afraid to approach the house doctor with their feelings about wanting hospice services. I have shared your info and have recommended your short to the point booklets that are a great help to families of patients facing the the end of life.. so thank you for being a great resource to me as a nurse…
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BK Books replied:
Oh Sarah, thank you for your kind words. Blessings to you in the great work you are doing of supporting and guiding those in your care as their end of life approaches. Barbara

Marcia dudley

My husband died 3 weeks ago after 62 years of marriage. He gave me the gift of 6 weeks to prepare, including 19 days in hospice. YOU gave me the gift of understanding it all. The sadness is for me, not him. He is at peace and as tough as it was for him, it truly was a gift to me! Thank you for the work you do, your books are awesome.
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BK Books replied:
Hi Marcia, I’m glad you were able to find guidance and comfort in my booklets. My thoughts are with you as you navigate your new journey of grief. Blessings! Barbara

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