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​How to Conduct Buddhist Services for Those Who Are Dying or Have Just Passed Away

To help people get through the helplessness and anxiety of death, Buddhists do end-of-life chanting for the dying to calm them, with the help of the slow and peaceful chanting of Amitabha Buddha's name. Dharma talks can be given to the dying at the proper time, to help them understand that life is impermanent so that they can let go of all attachments and face death peacefully.
1. Encourage terminally and gravely ill patients to let go of attachments to family members, relatives, friends, and wealth; tell them that they will have the chance to start a bright future in the Western Land of Ultimate Bliss whole-heartedly as long as they recite "Amituofo" (Amitabha Buddha's name) and stay focused and cultivate a positive attitude toward death and face it with courage.
2. To conduct an end-of-life chanting, family members can prepare a white blanket to cover the body of the deceased, as well as an Amitabha Buddha Recitation audio file and a playing device. They also need to decide where to do the chanting. (It is generally preferable to do it at home.)

After the death is announced, family members start and continue the chanting for 8 hours*. Physical contacts to the deceased should be avoided to help them let go of attachments. It is best for emotional family members to temporarily relieve their grief away from the deceased.
3. A place for end-of-life chanting can be in the hospital, nursing home, or at home. If it is necessary to move or touch the body of the deceased, family members need to inform the deceased first, telling them to be at ease and continue to recite Amitabha Buddha's name. The body should be moved gently and carefully.

4. Before chanting, place an image of the Three Sages of the Western World of Ultimate Bliss if it is available. Family members recite Amitabha Buddha's name with sincerity at the sides of the deceased, following the audio file.
5. After 8 hours, the body of the deceased could start to be gently wiped, dressed with clean clothes, and moved to a funeral parlor. Throughout these processes, family members should continually recite the Buddha's name in their minds. 

* Why Should End-of-Life Chanting Last for 8 Hours?

From the Buddhist point of view, death occurs when the body of the deceased has gone completely cold and begins to decay. Before the body becomes cold and begins to corrupt, one's spiritual consciousness still remains inside. In most cases, that lasts from 6 to 8 hours. But in some cases it can carry on to 12 hours. When the spiritual consciousness is still inside the body you can hear the chanting and feel the feelings of those who are chanting.

Dharma Drum Mountain Social Care Center

Extended Reading:
Does End-of-Life Chanting Work?

How to Conduct the 49-Day Buddhist Service for the Deceased

The Principles for Conducting a Buddhist Funeral

Procedures for the Buddhist Service for the Deceased