DHO End of Life Project

Dervish Healing Order
End of Life
By: Angela Amundsen, RN, BSN

Towards the One. This is our goal through all the stages of our lives. This is what we seek. The end of life is no different than any other stage. The Dervish Healing Order is beginning the dialogue on how we as healers can assist at the end of life, through practice,  prayer, support, and comfort measures.

On June 28, 2002, at the behest of Saul Barodofsky, the leader of the DHO, a number of Sufis met to discuss the issues of the end of life. The discussion led us to exploring how we deal with death. We each had a recent personal experience of death or have family or friends that our getting older or are ill, and we are aware of the immediacy of their death and their physical absence from our lives. Some of us are medical professionals, and deal with death frequently and assist patients, family, and friends through this process. None of had talked about our experiences as a group. We found that there was much to be shared, and we! had many questions. Care and comfort of the dying starts with us, the healer. To begin a practice of assisting the dying, we need to be aware of our own experiences of death, and our own perceptions. Are we comfortable with the process of death, do we see it as a part of life? Do we see death as someone else’s experience? How do others experience the process of death? Are we willing to ask others about their thoughts on death and dying? What are some of the cultural practices around death in your local area? Do these seem strange to us or can we appreciate these practices? Are we willing to look deeply inside ourselves and examine our own fears and beliefs about death and dying in order to be able to support another through this process?

As some of us are healers in the medical profession, a discussion took place about the need to begin to guide the humans for whom we are caring from disease directed therapy to comfort directed therapy. What are some of the ethical issues we need to examine in order to feel comfortable assisting people through this decision process? How can we support family and friends in the dying process? What are the prejudices, beliefs, and practices at which we need to look? How do we attend and care for ourselves while we support those in the process?

As healers in the medical profession, some of us need to become aware as to how we can support the human who is dying in the medical environment. Aslan Sattler, MD and Rey Patterson, MD have provided examples of orders and guidelines to consider. As healers working outside the medical community, you can read the examples and learn more about medical support.

We look at all the aspects of care to assist with this process — physical, emotional, spiritual.

Some of the tasks we can all do are practical and good human practice as well as spiritual practice. We can make a Living Will, which designates the medical care that we receive if we begin to die, and Durable Medical Power of Attorney, which legally designates the person who will be making medical decisions for us should we be unable to make them, and who will ensure our wishes be carried out. We can support a natural death, a natural process. In the Dervish Healing Order, we can perform the Healing Service to aid and comfort both the living and the deceased. According to Murshid Samuel Lewis, the Healing Service will ease the soul in the transition in transferring to higher planes of existence. In all cases meditation, is effective to create a healing environment. As the dialogue continues, we will update this site and provide further insights into how we can best serve at the end of life.

— Angela Amundsen