End of Life Care and Death

The Tibetan teacher Sogyal Rinpoche once said. “To die is extremely simple. You breathe out, and you don’t breathe in.” This is perhaps the best way to explain the transition into death.
Or perhaps we should say that this is how the transition into death is supposed to be. But this is not the experience most people in the modern world have with death. Instead, for most the transition into death is a difficult one, filled with fear and filled with pain. Most people do not like to think about death. Death has become a subject that we avoid looking at while it chases us down.
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It is the great inevitability of life, an inevitability that we spend billions of dollars trying to avoid every year. Some of us even make the very purpose of our lives a quest for physical immortality which places us in a quandary, a quandary where we resist death to such a degree that we inhibit ourselves from really living.

Many of us do not actually sit with death and try to understand it until it has caught up with us and we can no longer avoid it. Most of us never ask who it is that lives and dies. As a result, we have forgotten how to die well without suffering. We have also forgotten how to aid people with the transition into death.

On average, Medicare pays $50 billion per year just for doctor and hospital bills during the last two months of patients’ lives, which is more than the entire budget of the Department of Homeland Security or the Department of Education