Dying alone

Some people harbor great anger, frustration, and guilt when for whatever reason, they are not present when a loved one takes a final breath. It can make grieving feel that much worse.

The picture that often gets painted is that the dying person will feel neglected and unloved during one of life’s most important transitions. Storytellers can make this sound like the worst possibility ever. Dying alone is portrayed as being neglected, of being unimportant or unloved, or final proof that the life now ending was meaningless and worthless.

Another aspect of dying alone involves fear-based beliefs about death. If death is portrayed as scary, like a journey into a haunted house of the unknown, then holding a loved one’s hand at the end of the line is intended to be a comforting, “I’m here for you” gesture. Not being able to provide that comfort to a loved one feels like failure.

Yet this portrayal is a one-way view. How often does the story get told of what the whole experience might look and feel like for the person changing worlds?

One advantage of eventual soul phone technology is that it could substantially change this narrative by answering some of our basic questions about dying.

If you’ve read or listened to as many near-death experience stories as I have, you’ll note that even when people need to “go back” to earth living, the reception they got in the so-called spirit world was awesome (back to the more original meaning of awesome, I might add.)

There are great stories of unimaginably wonderful reunions sprinkled throughout the NDE literature.

The point is sometimes made from near-death experiencers that instead of feeling “saved” when they’re medically revived, some feel angered and bitterly disappointed. “Why did you bring me back?” This implies a huge disconnect between how death is viewed here and what some individuals have personally experienced.

Newer fields of study include deathbed visions where the person very near death of the body may see friends or relative who preceded them into the spirit world. It’s as if a welcoming committee is gathering to guide the person along into the next dimension of existence.

Then there are shared death experiences where a living, healthy person is able to share or co-perceive what’s happening to the dying person. These can offer spiritually transformative experiences to the survivors.

All this suggests that people do not die alone even if it seems that way in material world perceptions. It also suggests that some people are in store for amazing experiences once they let go of living inside a flesh body.

OH, WOW, OH, WOW!

Every case is unique, and I’m not making blanket statements here. However, I think that the typical depiction of dying completely underestimates a possible oh, wow, oh, wow response from the person making the trip.

Even if someone dies alone from this world’s perspective, that may only be part of the story. The other part of the story, not usually perceived in this reality, might be the loving reception offered on the other side.

Advice from hospices often encourages people to “give permission” to the dying person to leave the body. That’s because some people cling to life even in coma because they are worried about “abandoning” their loved ones. (Hospices usually don’t offer up spiritual perspectives about great things that may lie ahead for the journeyer.)

The pros and cons of dying alone are matters of individual personalities and perspectives. As an example, introverts and extroverts may have entirely different thoughts and beliefs.

Some people even appear to wait until they are alone to die. They may have loving families who care deeply about them and who are holding end-of-life vigils in a hospice setting (which could be at home, too.) But they wait until no one is in the room, even while in a comatose state, and then take leave. A departure like this is sometimes perceived as tragic timing, when it may actually be exactly what the exiting person wanted.

I had an aunt who appeared to do this. Her daughter stayed with her all day and into the night in a hospital. Noticing how exhausted my cousin appeared, the nurse convinced her to go home and get some sleep. By the time she got home about a half-hour later, her mother had crossed.

With this story in mind, I encouraged both my elderly parents to leave their bodies if and when they felt like it. I would miss their physical presence, I told them, but I knew they were ready for a new world adventure. (Since neither of my parents were big on soul survival, I told them this when they appeared to be sleeping.)

ADVANTAGEOUS OF BEING ALONE

While much of the world still clings to the idea that dying alone is bad, there are some advantages to it for the person making the trip. Dying alone may be more like devoting one’s complete attention to where they are headed, not to where they’ve been and what they’re leaving behind. They may devote themselves fully to making a life change without being distracted or conflicted with those in the room who are extremely upset at the impending bodily death. Introverts would probably get this more.

It must be quite a struggle to be very near death and to suddenly perceive a ‘deceased’ loved one standing in the room among the so-called living. If the family dynamic up to that point had been not to discus the afterlife, not to acknowledge the paranormal, not to openly share thoughts and feelings, it would be very difficult to acknowledge seeing a ‘dead person’ standing in the room. A dying person who had no special preparation or expectation for the experience would likely admit nothing.

The Covid-19 pandemic has created a situation where many people these days ‘die alone’ in isolation booths in hospitals. This is often portrayed as sad if not tragic. Much is made about not being able to say a proper good-bye with hugs and hand-holding.

On the other hand, so much spiritual teaching asserts that we are never alone even if this is not apparent to our five physical senses. Despite all the grief portrayals, no one actually dies alone, teachers say.

In some potential future pandemic, people may realize through a soul phone that people go on living. There could be a global shift of consciousness where we would not see death as tragic; we might even take joy in someone’s graduation from Earth School.

The model for dying might shift. We might have pre-death funerals or life celebrations so that the person making the journey can participate before going unconscious. We might have lengthy conversations about the death experience long before it happens. We might say what we want or need to say long before the end. We might be more prepared.

Of course, a soul phone could also allow us to talk with our loved ones after they’d made their transition. If we had any concerns that they felt abandoned, they could reassure us how fine they are.

None of this is intended to discourage people from sharing deathbed experiences and being there for this special transition. However, it is intended to cast the experience in a different light than how so much myth and misinformation has colored it.

Ultimately, dying alone may be far more tragic inside the mind of the person who wasn’t or couldn’t be present than for the person who made the transition. I hope this is a comforting thought, especially if you are someone who’s been on a journey of guilt.

UPDATE

After publishing the above I noticed this post on an IANDS blog adding more insight to this topic (click here.)

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