How to Help Dying Mother

How to Help Dying Mother

Date of Advice:
January 2015
Date Posted:
January 2019

A student’s mother was dying. Rinpoche’s advice includes prayers and practices, as well as instructions on how to care for her after the breath stops.  

Lama Zopa Rinpoche at Rinchen Jangsem Ling, Triang, Malaysia, April 2016. Photo: Bill Kane.

If you can, invite the geshe to come and make prayers, and when your mother is passing away, you have to recite this mantra:


Recite this mantra during her last breaths. If she is able to hear it, then she will never ever be reborn in the lower realms.

She can remember His Holiness the Dalai Lama or you can mention my name or OM MANI PADME HUM. Let her remember His Holiness the Dalai Lama, Chenrezig, the painting I gave her. If she can remember that, then she can rely on that. She doesn’t need to think about any other things; she can just rely on that and take refuge in that. That is the best, so tell her that.

You should recite the Buddha’s name mantra (above) in your mum’s ear at the time of passing and tell her what she should rely on now at this time—His Holiness the Dalai Lama. Tell her not to be attached to anything and just to rely on His Holiness the Dalai Lama, Chenrezig, that’s all, then Chenrezig will help with everything and bring her to the pure land.

Recite the King of Prayers at the center. Students can gather and recite this, and if I have time I will come. You don't have to wait until after your mother passes away; it can happen before that. This came out as one of the best things to do.

Also recite A Prayer for the Beginning, Middle and End of Practice, by Lama Tsongkhapa.

Make money offerings to the Sangha when they are doing prayers for your mother, and you can also offer to lay people. Since most of them have received teachings from His Holiness the Dalai Lama or Ribur Rinpoche or Kirti Tsenshab Rinpoche, they become the disciples of your guru, so they are the guru’s pores. Generate bodhicitta motivation and think those people to whom you are making offerings are all the guru’s pores.

By thinking, “I am going to make offerings to them in this way,” even if you make offerings to just one Sangha or one lay person, because they are disciples of the same guru you collect much more merit, the highest merit. You collect so much merit, more extensive merit than having made offerings to numberless buddhas, Dharma and Sangha, and numberless statues, stupas and scriptures. That merit is very small compared to the merit of offering to one pore of the guru. This is the greatest merit, the most extensive merit, so you should motivate like that.

If you can come here before you go, I will give you one Heruka relic from Mount Kailash and you can put that in your mother’s mouth at the time of passing.

You should get the Liberation Box for death time from FPMT. It has mantras to put on the head and powa pills to put on the crown.

Of course, as you know, the body should not be taken out immediately after [the breath stops] so leave it there if you can—if possible until bodhicitta comes out. For women that means white seed comes from the nose and red seed comes from the sex organ; for men it is the opposite. When that happens, the mind has completely left the body. After that, there is the intermediate stage, as soon as the consciousness leaves [the body].

Anyone working in a center must know all these things and have many things prepared to arrange around someone when they are dead. For example, there is the Namgyälma protection amulet to put on the head. Make sure you remember; I think you have. You should also carry the Namgyälma mantra to put on the body.

If there is heat at the heart—even if there is no heat above or below in the body—then the consciousness is still there. If you hold or pinch the skin and it stays up, that means the consciousness is gone. If it drops immediately—like if you pinch your arm—that means the consciousness is still there.

Also, if the death smell comes out, then for sure the consciousness has left. Sometimes sick people have a smell, but death has a very strong smell.

When the body has to be moved, pull a hair at the center of the head and make that the first part of the body you touch. If you can't tell whether the consciousness has left, doing that helps the consciousness leave from there, without touching other parts of body. The benefit of this is the consciousness goes to a higher realm. If you touch the lower part of the body then [the consciousness] goes to the lower realms—[urinary meatus]: animal realm; anus: hell realm. If the consciousness goes from the mouth then maybe that person is reborn as a preta and if from the forehead, the person may be reborn as a human being.