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Dying gently

Important Note: This article was written prior to 2010 and is now outdated. Please use my newest advancement, Optimal EFT. It is more efficient, more powerful and clearly explained in my free e-book, The Unseen Therapist™.  Best wishes, Gary

Hi Everyone,

All professionals and active EFT students will want to print out and save this article by Deborah Mitnick. It will serve as an indispensable guide the next time you deal with the process of dying (whether for friends, family or yourself).

The body's death is inevitable and, handled properly, it can be a beautiful experience...a time of love...of gratitude...of union. Unfortunately, it is usually approached awkwardly as a "bad thing" and thus loses its true potential for ripening the human spirit.

Deborah blends two "dying experiences" for us into one article that gives us several uses for EFT as well as other elements of "human touch." To give this subject its proper due, Deborah created a much longer than usual message for our eyes. Thus it is complete and well worth a place in your library.

Hugs, Gary


By Deborah Mitnick

My friend, "Sarah" died yesterday. I'm going to tell you about that death and how I used tapping to help Sarah and her family transition through the many stages that led up to her death. But I'm also going to insert a brief report about another death. I'm going to tell you about a client of mine who asked me to help her as her mother was dying. I'm combining these reports because of their similarities, but I see them as very different incidents.

Sarah, my friend, was 84 years old (almost as old as my Mother) and I've known her since I was three years old. Her daughter, "Jennifer," was five years old when we met and we've been close friends for over 52 years.

Sarah had a stroke about a week ago, and although she looked at us and clearly understood what we were saying to her, she could not speak and she was paralyzed on one side of her body. She could blink her eyes and squeeze our hands to answer yes and no questions. We knew that there was no hope for a full recovery and that should Sarah live, she would not be able to achieve the dynamic functioning that she had enjoyed and cherished until the time of the stroke. She had a Living Will which stated that if she could not recover her full functioning and communicate with others in the manner to which she'd been accustomed, she would not want to be maintained on any life support and did not even want nutrition or hydration, should the prognosis for full recovery be poor.

I stayed with Sarah and her family almost night and day during this past week. Sarah's son and daughter-in-law, "Charles" and "Linda," as well as her daughter, Jennifer, were at Sarah's bedside even more than I was.

As some of you know, I've always loved to work in crisis situations, in critical incident situations, and that I specialize in trauma, grief, and bereavement issues, among other things. I have a specialty in working with anticipatory grief situations and I know how to negotiate hospital systems and arrange it so that hospital personnel get things done in a timely fashion.

But Sarah is my friend and I was grieving for her. And Jennifer, Charles, and Linda are my friends and my heart was aching for them. So, I really wondered if I could be objective enough to help the Family. All I knew was that I really wanted to be with them and ease any discomforts that I could. So, I spent the week helping them think through some of the decisions that have to be made to "pull the plug." After just a few days, they finally decided to remove all of the tubes, including intravenous hydration. Sarah made this decision as easy as she could for them because of how clearly she had written her Living Will many years before. (I recommend that we all have Living Wills! The Family knew exactly what Sarah wanted and didn't have much hesitation or guilt about doing what needed to be done.)

In spite of Sarah's clarity in her Living Will, this was still a gut-wrenching decision for the family. There'd been a lot of crying and second-guessing going on. This Family was finding it very difficult to "let go." They wanted to do what was best for Sarah, but they were torn with conflict and with grief about taking that ultimate step because they knew that she would die more quickly, once they had all the tubes withdrawn. And, although they wanted to respect her wishes, on some level, they weren't ready to let her go; they weren't ready to no longer have her physically with them.

After the decision to remove hydration was made, Jennifer told her Mom everything that was about to happen. Although Sarah couldn't speak, she clearly understood what was being said to her and she looked immediately relieved. Jennifer told her, "It's ok to go. We're going to remove the tubes and respect your wishes. We'll be ok." The Family decided to make arrangements with Hospice to take Sarah home so that she could die in her own bed.

But still the family grieved and second-guessed and was scared of what the imminent death would look like. (I was able to prepare them for what they'd see. I also got medical "experts" to tell them what to expect as the end grew closer.)

I offered to use some tapping with Sarah and with the family, to help them with their "letting go" conflicts. Later that night, I gathered the family around Sarah and told them that I'd like to tap on Sarah and also give the Family the opportunity to talk to Sarah while I tapped. I told them that I had no idea what the outcome would be and asked them if it would be ok with them if she began to slip away, even before she got home to her own bed.

I told them that I'd had one other experience with tapping with a dying woman. In that case, the daughter of the woman was my client. "Mary" told me that her Mom had been in a coma for weeks and that the result was inevitable. She said it was torture to watch her Mother being agitated and in pain while in her light coma, but "Mom couldn't let go" because Mary still wanted her Mom to "stay here" and "take care" of her." She said, "I'm not ready for Mom to die."

After a phone session of EFT, Mary felt more ready. During that session, we tapped for, "Even though I'm not ready for Mom to die...," "Even though I will miss her...," "Even though I'll have to take care of her cats now...," "Even though it's hard to let her go...."

And, as some of you know, I usually tap on one side for the "challenge" and on the other side for the "choice," so I had Mary tapping for the above statements on the right side of the body, but we alternated with tapping on the left side of the body for the choice statements of, "Choosing forgiveness and peace...," "Being open to choosing for her to let go now ..."

I asked Mary if she'd be open to the possibility of tapping on her Mom, even though Mom was in a coma. (Since Mary and I totally believe that those in comas can still hear us talking to them, Mary was in enthusiastic agreement about this!) We discussed the types of things she could tap for on her Mom, while speaking for her Mom. "Even though it's hard for you to let go because you think I still need you here...," "Even though you're worried about who will take care of your cats...," "Even though it's difficult to say goodbye, you want to deeply and completely accept yourself. You want to know that I am ok with this and that I will take care of your cats. And I will. It's ok with me if you go in peace, when the time is right for you."

A few days later, Mary left me a voice mail message: "I'm calling to let you know that my Mom passed on, but thanks to you, it was so peaceful and so amazing. I'll need to tell you more in detail when we speak at our next session, but basically what I did is...I put on her favorite music; I sang and danced; I talked to her about good old memories. I did some tapping on her hand as I was talking. I kept things kind of light. When we went to give her the medication, she had some pain and gave a moan. We'd heard nothing from her for two days. I tapped on her eyebrows and we went through all the tapping points you taught me. I told her 'I want you to know, Mom that we (the kids) are all at peace. Whenever you feel it's right, it's ok to pass. We're ok.' And with that, Deborah, she opened up her eyes from the coma. She looked around. I said, 'Yes, it's ok. Go toward the light and be with your son and your husband, and everyone else who has passed on.' We were all talking and singing with her. Whoever was talking to her, Mom's eyes looked directly at that person. My friend sang a prayer song. After the song, Mom looked content and took her last breath. It was so beautiful; it was so amazing. I owe it all to you, Deborah. I wouldn't have had the strength without your support. Even my husband said he couldn't believe how strong I was. I couldn't have done it without you. I'd love to talk to you one day this week and prepare myself for the funeral. Thank you."

Now that I've set the stage, I'll tell you more about Sarah and her Family.

So, with my friends, I told them I couldn't possibly know what would happen next. I just had confidence that Sarah would hear us; that we could ease her passage; and she would transition when the time was right for her. (I was also thinking about Gary's tutorial on "Borrowing Benefits" and I assumed that the Family would achieve their own positive benefits [and maybe even some peace] as I focused all of my attention and tapping on Sarah.) I started tapping on her hand and then on all of the meridian points that I could reach. "Even though you're not quite ready to go, you want to deeply and completely accept yourself. And even though you're worried about how people will manage without you, it's ok. They are here with you now and want you to know that they will be fine. They want you to know that if they have any emotional problems, that Deborah will be able to help them through that."

I then invited the Family members to speak to her in turn. They all told her that it was ok to transition, when she was ready and that they'd be fine. They invited her to look toward the Light and see that her husband and parents were waiting to welcome her and to ease her transition. They told her to keep watch over them and that they would always feel her spiritual presence. (I asked her to say hello to my Father for me! Sarah and my Father had been very good friends.)

I then told her that if there was anyone she was still waiting to say goodbye to, it was ok and that she had done the best she could in saying her goodbyes. I also told her that each member of the Family wanted to ask her forgiveness for anything that they may have done that had offended her, that they had only done the best that they could at the time, given their resources and their history. I then told her that we knew that she wanted forgiveness for anything she had done that may have offended others, and that we lovingly forgave her because we knew that she had also done the best that she could given her history and her resources.

The entire time that the Family members talked to her, I was tapping on her. We all cried, but we were crying, not just tears of grief, but of celebration and of readiness to accept what needed to be accepted. We told her that we'd be taking her home to her own bed and that she could wait for that, or pass gently even before that.

For over 30 minutes, I tapped on Sarah while the Family talked with her and assured her that they were fine. We sang songs of comfort to her. When the Family members indicated they were complete, we stopped tapping. They all said that it was a beautiful and comforting experience and that they felt totally complete. We cried and hugged and celebrated a beautiful and moving experience.

When we looked at Sarah again, her breathing had calmed down. Her color had pinked up. Her brow was no longer furrowed and her wrinkles were smoother. She was resting comfortably.

When we took her home, we put her in her own bed and continued to sing to her, play her favorite classical music cassettes, and assure her that she could transition when the time was right for her. We talked about Family that hadn't yet arrived from out of town and how they'd sent their blessings for her to transition without needing to wait for them, because they felt complete in their own goodbyes with her.

A few hours later, Jennifer and I were alone with Sarah. Jennifer had more she wanted to say to her Mom and she took the time to say everything in her heart. And then I tapped on Sarah again. Very gently, Sarah's breathing quieted. And a few hours later, we saw her Life Force leave her body in the most gentle and quiet and peaceful manner.

I don't feel a need to add much personal summary here. I feel honored to have been a participant and also a facilitator for this Family that I love so much. I feel blessed to have known Sarah at her most vibrant and I feel blessed to have been with her as she gently died.

My life is enhanced because I knew this beautiful woman.

Deborah Mitnick, LCSW-C


Explore our newest advancement, Optimal EFT™, by reading my free e-book, The Unseen Therapist™. More efficient. More powerful.