Labor of the Dying

We live inside of our bodies so it is no secret to us when death from disease or old age is close. We may not share the knowledge with anyone but we know in the core of our being when we are going to die. The key word here is “when.” In the months before death we can be told we are going to die soon but we don’t really believe it. At some point though, we truly know within the core of our being that indeed we are dying. With that knowledge labor begins. I call this time labor because we are like a little chick trying to get out of a shell. The chick’s shell doesn’t just open and out pops the chick. It must work to free itself and that takes time. For us humans it takes one to three weeks to emerge from our physical shell.

Before labor a person looks sick and frail but not like they are going to die. Once labor begins a person actually looks like they are dying. We may not be able to put the change into words but we know something is different. The key change I notice is that a person starts sleeping with their eyes partially open. Other changes you can find in the booklet "Gone From My Sight: The Dying Experience."

The labor to leave this world is comparable to the labor to get into this world. Some of us do it easier and quicker than others. Unlike the labor to enter this world the labor to leave is harder on the watchers than it is on the one doing the work. Three things can affect the length of our labor to leave this world. Physical pain makes it harder to get out of our body. Fear, and we will all be afraid to some degree, makes us tense which also makes our labor longer. Because we have limited control over the time that we die if there is unfinished business we can try to stay here until an issue is addressed. That will also make our labor longer.

The key to dying is to relax. When we relax we can just ease out of our body. If pain has been an issue in the history of a particular illness then pain continues and needs to be treated until the last breath. If pain has not been an issue then just because someone is dying does not mean they will now have pain. We want to look at the degree of fear a person is bringing to this life experience. A tranquilizer may be necessary if the fear is creating agitation and restlessness. Unfinished business will generally resolve itself. Is there need to make a phone call to someone? Has someone not yet arrived? Do words of forgiveness need to be said? Addressing the three areas of pain, fear, and unfinished business is how we assist with labor.

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