Someone I know is watching a family member go through his last hours of life, and she's understandably devastated. She sent me a text message a couple of days ago saying she didn't know how she would get through it.
Yes, I remember the experience all too clearly. And one day I will have to go through it again, if death doesn't take me first (who knows what little surprises are in store for us, eh?)
I was tempted, for a moment, after I received her text to write back that something of him would live on, that he would be reborn, that her grief would disturb him after death and cause him to drift towards an unfavourable rebirth. I wanted to echo Chogyam Trungpa's words to Allen Ginsberg when his father died, "Please let him go, and continue your celebration."
But my friend isn't a Buddhist. And she doesn't need to hear me proselytising for Buddhism, regurgitating stuff I learned from "The Tibetan Book Of The Dead", any more than I would have appreciated a Christian telling me my mother would have a wonderful time in Heaven when she died in 1996.
When someone dies or is dying all the person really needs to know is that they are not as alone as their grief and bewilderment makes them feel. Then they need space to rebuild a life which has been devastated by the loss.
You can get points for what you learned in Seminary School the next time you sit down with your teacher.