How to give end of life care to others

Guru: Yes, I’ll tell you one of the most important things that you must realise. When a person is old, possibly they lose their faculties of consciousness, alertness, and mindfulness but that doesn’t necessarily mean that all the things around them do not register; they do register. 

Even if a person is unconscious and cannot talk to you, they do register [what is happening around them] and you can feel that they can hear people’s voices. When a person is unconscious, people come and visit them and say, “Poor fellow, he can’t hear a word, he’s unconscious.” Oh no, it registers, the vibration registers and the only thing they can’t do is convey it in their own words because the mind is a bit confused.

You must remember that every opportunity in old age and sickness, and whatever the person is going to go through, is an opportunity for the person to pay their karma. You must also take the opportunity to help that person to pay their karma, and to go through that life under a normal set of circumstances without terminating their life prematurely. That’s a responsibility we have.

When somebody is ill or when we have sick animals, one of the brothers will come to me and tell me. We have at the moment a cow that has got cancer in her mouth but she’s eating very well. We’re looking after her, and you can see cancer developing.

The vet knows now that I will never allow him to put this animal down, no way. She’s given us a lot of milk, has provided a lot of sustenance to the community and has helped us through many difficult times. Now is the moment for me to help this cow in this moment of difficulty. I will give it painkillers. I will do everything I can to prepare this cow to go through the difficult passage that is available. This is our way to say thank you to her. This is our way to pay our karma through service and to realise that life is sacred. We must do our best to help this animal.

Be willing to serve life at every level

This is an opportunity not only for animals but for human beings as well. Don’t take a shortcut, don’t look at life and say, “Oh he’s only a vegetable who can’t even react or respond.” My goodness, he or she may not be able to react or respond but you have the opportunity to look after that person. What a joy. You must be able to go and help them. That is a responsibility that we must have if we have love for God and all of life. We must serve life at every level, and this is an important part of spiritual development.  

If you don’t do that I’ll tell you what will happen. You will become very callous in your mind. [Society will say] that only when a person can give something to it [will they have the right to live.] We will have organised in our minds a system that is set out and we will say when you come to fifty or sixty years old you only have a right to live depending on your ability to react and respond intelligently and positively. 

After this period will we then have the right to say in society send them to the gas chamber? No way!  That is what we are doing if we begin to adopt these ideas in our mind – no way!

You must care for people, irrespective of what pressure or troubles they give you. For through that trouble and difficulty you will discover your divinity.

You [must have] tolerance and an ability to understand the pressures that are going to be born by the person who is caring. You have to learn what selflessness means. I can tell you through my own experience. One of the sisters had breast cancer. She came to me and said, “I’ve just had the therapy and it burnt my whole breast, what am I to do?” I said, “Nothing. I will look after you.” She said, “You can’t look after me.”  I said, “What do you mean? I can!” So every day, twice a day I cleaned her body which was full of cancer and helped her through this difficult passage.

Then one day she looked very quizzically at me and she said to me, “Guru, don’t you get the smell of rotting flesh?” I said, “No. I serve God in you and it doesn’t matter what I do but to serve you.” Every night we used to pray and pray, and we used to dedicate her life. She said to me, “Would you pray to the Divine Mother? I’m not asking to be cured because I asked to pay my karma in this life but can I just have the smell of this rotting body removed and then I will be able to tolerate this problem?”

So that night we sat and we prayed and I asked the Divine Mother, “Mother, Sister Topsy doesn’t want to have the smell, but doesn’t want you to take the problem away.” Then we did the puja as we did every night. When I was there a couple of days later, she nicely smiled at me and said, “Guru, you have not commented about something,” and I said, “No, why?”  She said, “I have no smell, my body is neutral now.” The smell had stopped.

Today, even the doctors and nurses who came and looked after and cared for her, say to me when I go to the hospital, “Remember Sister Topsy? I looked after her, she had no smell from her cancer.”

Yes, the Lord will provide you with some element of relief when you appeal to the Divine Mother to give you the strength to handle a difficult situation. But first, you must be willing to handle that situation. That is very important. Without that willingness, there is no reason why the Lord should give you any relief whatsoever. You must be willing to dedicate yourself and say never mind what I have to go through. I will look after and care for the Lord in you, I will feed the Lord in you, I will clothe the Lord in you, I will understand the Lord in you. That is the most important part of the drama of care and help that is required of you.

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