Approaching Death: A Companion’s Guide to the End of Life
“The idea of the transience
Of all earthly things
Is a source of boundless suffering
And a source of boundless consolation.”
—Maria von Ebner-Eschenbach (1830–1916)
Just as no two people are alike, each death is individual and unique. This special book does not promote methodologies or theories but offers insights, information, and contemplations on the end of life. It supports the companions of those on their dying journey, whether volunteer caretakers, medical professionals, clerics, or loved ones.
Renée Zeylmans taught courses on accompanying dying and bereavement for many years. She described the journey toward death as a reciprocal process, asking not only how we can travel with those who are dying and what can we give them, but also what do they give to us in the process. This book is the fruit of a lifetime of her work, and her intention was for it to enrich readers, shed a new light on difficult situations, evoke recognition, console, and offer choices.
In addition to a host of practical information on dying and death—including questions surrounding the physiology of death, fear, fasting, funerals, music, language, and human senses—the book also includes contemplations and meditations from various worldviews and cultures.
Foreword by Bastiaan Baan
I. Being a Companion to a Dying Person
1. Dying Is Being Born in the Spiritual World
2. Death Is as a Horizon
3. The ‘Unknown’ Hour of Death
4. Developing Awareness of Our Future Realm
5. When People Close to Us Die
6. The Person Dying as Fellow Traveller (Monique van der Zanden)
7. When Young People Die
8. Experiences in a Children’s Hospital (Patricia de Vos)
II. Care for the Dying
9. The Senses of the One Dying
10. The Language of Images at the Threshold (Bert Voorhoeve)
11. Music for Terminally Ill People (Hilly Bol)
12. Artistic Therapy (Marieke Udo de Haes-Mulder)
13. External Therapy (Pauli van Engelen and Toke Bezuijen)
III. Death Is Approaching
14. The Physiology of Dying (Paul Schmitz, MD)
16. Fasting until Death
17. The Double: My Shadow
18. The Moment of Dying
IV. After Death
20. The Funeral
21. Accompanying the Dying and Christian Ritual (Bastiaan Baan)
22. Mourning by Friends and Relatives
23. Across the Threshold of Death
24. Staying Connected with the Dead
About the Author
Renée Zeylmans, an experienced therapist and grief counsellor, offers spiritual insights, practical information, and contemplations and meditations to support the companions of those who are approaching death.
Bastiaan Baan worked as a teacher in the Netherlands before being ordained in 1981. He was a Christian Community priest in the Netherlands and before becoming director of the priests’ seminary in Spring Valley, NY. He lectures widely, and has written many books. Lord of the Elements is his first book to be published in English.
Philip Mees was born in Holland and has lived in the United States since 1969. He is a retired bank officer and was for many years a trustee of the Rudolf Steiner Foundation (RSF Social Finance, San Francisco CA). He is a long-time student of Rudolf Steiner’s work and one of his particular interests is the evolution of human consciousness through the ages as expressed in art, as well as in human actions in everyday life today. His principal retirement occupation is translating Dutch anthroposophical books, in which his ably assisted by his wife Linda Connell. Linda and he live in Glendale CA.