Support for the Dying: After the Patient Dies
Relatives should not cry in the presence of the patient immediately before and after the death. Doing so can cause the dying patient to develop thoughts of attachment which can prevent the much sought rebirth and resultant liberation.
It is vitally important not to touch or move the body of the deceased person. Thus, people should wait at least twelve hours, preferably twenty-four, before washing and dressing the body.
Family and friends should concentrate on chanting in all earnestness and without crying for at least twelve hours. This is to allow the patient’s most subtle consciousness adequate time to leave the body. If, during this period, anyone touches the body or cries, the deceased may still experience feelings of pain, sadness, anger, or self-pity, and sink again into the paths of suffering.
During the minimum twelve-hour period (twenty-four hours is preferable), if people can remain chanting near the deceased, so much the better. Except for chanting, nothing should be done.
Funeral arrangements should be simple and modest, without unnecessary expenses. Only vegetarian food should be provided for serving meat or fish will burden the departed with more karmic obstacles, making liberation that much more difficult. It is important to remember that even those who have been already been born into the Pure Land may still be affected by the behavior of family and friends acting on behalf of the deceased.