Development in dying

Matthias Girke

Last update: 17.09.2015

We can recognize three stages and developmental steps in the process of dying. First, the healing processes that we can observe up till the end point to life forces which are the basis of bodily formation and which allow the body to continually regenerate and develop. Until “the end”, a wound can heal and allow the patient the experience of becoming physically “whole” again—of reaching physical integrity and overcoming an “injury.” These constructive life forces are steered and led by an all-encompassing order and wisdom that can be recognized in all of the formation and function of the human body. It comes from a world that is part of the ultimate ground of our being, and is known as the realm of the Creator [Father]. The human being is born out of this Divine; all constructive, body-forming activity in life comes from it.

In contrast, the dying of the physical body appears as an “un-becoming”, as a literal “un-being” (“Verwesen”), in the sense that the immortal being struggles its way out of the mortal sensory appearance of physical existence. The enormous struggle that the dying person takes upon himself, that sometimes includes great suffering which our therapeutic support challenges, serves this spiritual birth. Dying is connected to “spiritual birth.” Death and resurrection, and thereby the relationship to the Christ being, appear in each individual’s image in this decisive phase of life. The birth into the world beyond the senses, which begins at the moment of death, is connected with the force of resurrection which shines towards the human being as she arrives in the other world. Each death is not a “succumbing to illness”, as one so often reads in obituaries. Rather, the illness is overcome and “no longer necessary.” A higher healing is accomplished. The feeling of health which many patients report (“I am actually healthy”) points to this development and must not be misinterpreted as illusion or misjudgement of the present situation. It is clearly distinguishable from the earlier phase of illness denial and shows the human being’s increasingly inward experience and loosening process from the physical body.

Finally, important changes in consciousness can develop, in that the eyes become closed to this side of the threshold and open to the light of the spiritual world, which is so impressively described after near-death experiences. The meditation included above describes this transition from experienced darkness into which the human being gazes, to the light that comes into being within it. This consciousness-illuminating, “enlightening” quality is connected to what we call the “Holy Spirit.” It is no accident that “holy” (“heilig”) and “healing” (“heilend”) are related words. We already spoke of the relationship in content of these two qualities when we described the inner development of people with cancer. The patient—even in terminal cases—experiences phases which, on the one hand, are related to physical healing processes, and on the other hand encompass the loosening from the physical body in the process of dying on the way to spiritual birth, and finally to awakening in consciousness directed toward the spiritual world.

Research news

Mistletoe therapy in addition to standard immunotherapy in patients with non-small-cell lung cancer indicates improved survival rates 
Immunotherapy with PD-1/PD-L1 inhibitors has significantly improved the survival rates of patients with metastatic non-small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC). Results of a real-world data study (RWD) investigating the addition of Viscum album L. (VA) to chemotherapy have shown an association with improved survival in patients with NSCLC - regardless of age, degree of metastasis, performance status, lifestyle or oncological treatment. The mechanisms may include synergistic modulations of the immune response by PD-1/PD-L1 inhibitors and VA. However, the results should be taken with caution due to the observational and non-randomised study design. The study has been published open access in Cancers

Further information on Anthroposophic Medicine