Tag Archives Dying

The Final Accompaniment: Learning to Support a Loved One Through the End of their Earthly Life

It is 6am on another sunny August morning in northern California (USA). I am standing beside my mother looking out through the kitchen window at a hummingbird feeding on the sun-warmed nectar in the throats of the crimson trumpet-shaped hibiscus blossoms on the bush outside. Mom has always loved hummingbirds. Perhaps it is the miracle of these tiny, brightly coloured and graceful beings, who, despite having a heart the size of a fingernail, can fly hundreds of kilometres without pausing to rest that mesmerizes her. Hummingbirds can feed on more than a thousand flowers in a single day. Perhaps because of the intensity with which they live, hummingbirds’ lives are incredibly brief. Like the hummingbird, my mother has always given everything of herself that she could possibly give to life. She has always been strong and resilient. She is a rock for my entire family. However in this delicate moment of reflection, my giant-hearted mother is dying. Unbeknownst to us, in this moment, she has less than a month to live, and so much more that she wants to do in this world that it breaks my heart.

The Baha’i Writings speak a lot about accompaniment. In its 2010 Ridvan Message, the Universal House of Justice said that we need to stand shoulder to shoulder with each other, supporting each other through our struggles and partaking in each other’s joys. We dedicate a great deal of energy learning how to accompany each other during our earthly lives. But as my mother approached the day when her soul would end its association with her physical body, I realized that I knew very little about how to best accompany her as she moved towards the end of her life.  Continue reading