Nocturnal Works death doula resources


Maraṇasati (death meditation, mindfulness of death or death awareness) is a practice where the person meditating considers that their life will end. This practice can take place within formal meditation environments (sitting, walking, etc) or can happen with a moment's thought, such as considering for a given moment and then returning to one's daily activities.

There are many forms of death meditation. One example follows.

The Nine Contemplations of Atisha

The First Contemplation

Death is inevitable, no one is exempt. Holding this thought in mind, I abide in the breath.

The Second Contemplation

Our life span is decreasing continuously, every breath brings us closer to death. Holding this thought in mind, I delve deeply into its truth.

The Third Contemplation

Death will indeed come, whether or not we are prepared. Holding this thought in mind, I enter into a real sense of practice. (Or, “I enter more fully into the body of life.”)

The Fourth Contemplation

Human life expectancy is uncertain, death can come at any time.Holding this thought in mind, I listen with utmost care to every sound.

The Fifth Contemplation

There are many causes of death – habits, desires, accidents can be precipitants. Holding this thought in mind, I consider the myriad possibilities.

The Sixth Contemplation

The human body is fragile and vulnerable, our life hangs by a breath. Holding this thought in mind, I attend to each inhalation-exhalation.

The Seventh Contemplation

At the time of death, our material resources are of no use to us. Holding this thought in mind, I invest wholeheartedly in the practice.

The Eighth Contemplation

Our loved ones cannot keep us from death, there is no delaying its advent. Holding this thought in mind, I exercise non-grasping and clinging.

The Ninth Contemplation

Our body cannot help us at the time of death, it too will be lost at that moment. Holding this thought in mind, I strengthen my capacity for release.

Credited to Atisha (982 -1054 CE), this English version is by Roshi Joan Halifax of The Upaya Zen Center in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

About Death Doulas

Death Doulas - also referred to as End of Life Doulas - provide emotional and other support to the dying and their families. Support can be psychological (e.g. counselling), physical (aiding with exercise), clerical (helping with completing documents, including advanced directives), documentary (recording messages, including final messages for the dying), ceremonial (e.g. helping plan and/or deliver funerals) and other assistance which is not medical in nature. Death doulas are not doctors, they are not nurses and they are not solicitors/lawyers. They are brought in at the request of the dying and/or family and they are there to help the person transition from life.

About Nocturnal Works

The content on this site is provided to give resources and support to those dying, their loved ones and those providing death doula (end of life) support. When we find out that death is near and the initial shock wears off, emotions and questions flood into our minds. Noctural Works exists as place where you can find out about mental health issues and therapy related to death, dying, grief and bereavement - as well as more practical support, such as planning for death and supporting others on their journey.

The resources on this site are provided by Death Doula Ltd, a company in Aotearoa New Zealand which provides end of life doula support online, in Wellington, Blenheim and Picton (New Zealand). These resources are not legal or medical in nature, so do no rely upon them, but seek legal and medical advice, as required. If you are interested in counselling resources not focusing on death and dying, you can visit our other site, Therapy Aroha.