As the time of your or your loved one’s death nears, it may be helpful to keep a picture of your beloved spiritual teacher or guide nearby. I sometimes recommend to people who are virtually bedridden that they might place a picture of Jesus, Mother Mary, Buddha, or their favorite spiritual guide on the wall by the end of their bed. This way, whenever their eyes are open, they will see and be reminded of their beloved one, to whom they may well be returning.
I had an interesting experience with a gentleman who was on our hospice over a lengthy period. I actually got to know Jerry’s dear wife much better than I did Jerry, because she was very open and curious about spiritual matters. I sensed she wanted to learn and grow through her husband’s experience. About a week before Jerry died, she told me he had asked her for a picture of Jesus to place at the foot of his bed. She had found a lovely, rather unusual, framed picture of Jesus that they had in their possession. She believed it gave Jerry much comfort to see Jesus at the end of his bed as he prepared to enter the spiritual realm.
In another situation, I recall meeting the wife of a gentleman I came to know on hospice. The gentleman was in a room in an adult family home and could no longer speak. However, I got to meet his wife one day and she told me about the beautiful picture that was hanging on the wall at the foot of his bed. It turned out that his wife had wanted to find something to place there that would remind him of where he was going. She searched in religious bookstores, but found nothing. Then, when she was in a Michaels craft store, she found a beautiful poster of the Earth Angel, by Josephine Wall, a British artist. She decided it was exactly what she was looking for and posted it at the foot of her husband’s bed.
I was so taken by Josephine’s “Earth Angel” and its beauty that I went out and found a copy of it at a Michael’s myself and mounted it on a strong, wooden purple frame. It became my muse for this work. Eventually, I was able to get permission from Josephine’s agent, and Earth Angel is now on the cover of my second book, The Most Important Day of Your Life: Are You Ready? It is a reminder to me of the peace and harmony that is coming to planet earth, especially as we do our “work” around death, grief, and the mystery of life – releasing the fear that still remains, of the unknown.
Chanting and repeating the name of a spiritual leader or guide is also said to be a powerful way to die. The person who is dying can do this, if he or she is conscious and desires to do so. Otherwise, in planning ahead, a loved one who is with the person as death nears might practice this on the loved one’s behalf. Anya Foos-Graber, author of Deathing: An Intelligent Alternative for the Final Moments of Life, writes about this technique in Chapter 23 of Experiencing the Soul. She says that invoking the name of a spiritual being or master, one who is “one with God,” is a meaningful way to approach death.
In response to the question, “Why is the moment of death so important for the progress of the soul?” Foos-Graber responds: “Many spiritual traditions teach that whatever one focuses on at this moment casts the ‘ﬂavor’ atmosphere of what occurs after physical death. The way we die…has a profound corresponding effect for our state in the afterlife.”
She goes on to share that just as ﬁrst impressions are important when we meet someone for the ﬁrst time, so are our last impressions. We can leave a good “mark” on the “cosmic memory banks of the Universal Mind” when we focus on God/dess through a divine being who is powerfully connected to All That Is.