Shanti Avedna Ashram: Dying with Dignity

We can ensure a dignified passage for the terminally ill by making available unconditional love and support.

How to live when you loved one is dying

How does one deal with a situation where we know that the person we love dearly is going to die soon? Or, when they are no longer with us, how do we cope with our grief at their loss? How do those who know they are nearing their end feel?

The importance of asking these questions and the necessity of finding an answer to them has prompted a study of death and the dying process in recent years.

How could you make the last moments more peaceful

Rites of passage have lost their sanctity in modern times, and have become mechanical, hospital and medication driven events.

One effective solution is to provide a dignified passage to the dying by using music, shamanic rites and prayer and by making love and support available. This approach has been adopted in several hospices and care centers for the terminally ill around the world.

Shanti Avedna Ashram

A home for the terminally ill

In India, the concept of care homes and hospices for the terminally ill is gaining popularity. The Shanti Avedna Ashram in one such example. Founded by Dr Jose Luis de Souza 15 years ago, the Ashram today has centers in Mumbai, Goa and Delhi.

Sr Ancy Kottuppalli, administrator of Shanti Avedna Ashram, Mumbai, says:

“We cannot extend their lives, but we can inspire them to live well for as long as they are alive.”

Medical care and counselling

The Ashram, along with medical attention, provides counseling to guests and their family members. Most people admitted here suffer from anxiety brought on by the knowledge of their imminent death.

When they arrive at the Ashram, the patients are at their lowest in terms of self-esteem and dignity. They have to be pulled out from that psychological well, nurtured to a state of mental and emotional well being and inspired to accept death with equanimity.

Showing them that someone cares for them too

Workers at care homes lend their ears to the patients who feel calmer once they have had the opportunity to speak with a sensitive listener. By talking about their feelings, they are able to understand them better and eventually face them.

Anything as simple as a friendly chat, regular visits or even praying together as in Shanti Avedna Ashram where all people assemble in a prayer room to pray together also gives immense pleasure and satisfaction to both patients and their caregivers.

Supporting the family members of the patients

The love and support of family members and loved ones are of prime importance. Sometimes however, family members are in a worse state than the person who is ill.

Hence, they are counseled at the care home and stressors in their mental make-up are examined, preparing them for the inevitable in future. This gives them strength and they are able to cope with the passing of their loved one better.

They are also assisted, after the demise of their beloved, to move on with their lives. It is a holistic way of caring of patients because it includes their emotions, their families and their families’ emotions; it provides closure and comfort in a time of turmoil and uncertainty.

Authors

This article has been contributed Laxmi Soundalge and Rajni Yadav, who are students of Event Management at EMDI, Mumbai.

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