By Teresa Lamb and Laura Ellis
What is the Next of Kin Committee?
Under the guidance and direction of our Head Lama, His Holiness Jigdal Dagchen Sakya, this group of volunteers works to help Sakya Monastery members with their end of life wishes. As Buddhist practitioners our needs at the time of death may differ from those of other belief systems common in Western society. Because of this, we hope to provide enough information to help members express their wishes to their Next of Kin. If members do not have family or if they are too far away, volunteers from the NOK committee can assist them at their time of death.
Anyone can join the NOK Committee, and, indeed, we would love to have more volunteers join our efforts to provide information and services to members around end of life issues. Some projects we have been working on include:
- The NOK Guide: This is a packet of information including a summary of prayers to be recited at the time of death, forms to assist members in deciding what their end of life wishes are, and checklists of legal documents.
- Research into Prayers and Protocols: His Holiness Dagchen Rinpoche has provided us with information on prayers and protocols for how to handle the body. We have sought out resources from the community that can help us to follow these protocols.
- Advocacy: We research WA State laws and hospital protocols so that we can advise members on how to request that local authorities and hospital staff handle the body correctly.
- Vigil Volunteers: These Volunteers have helped provide continuous prayers for those who have had serious health conditions or those who required surgery. On the days of a scheduled surgery volunteers sign up for shifts so there is someone praying for that individual almost continuously throughout the crucial time, the night before, and the night after the procedure. If requested names can be added to the Medicine Buddha Prayer group during their recovery.
- We hold regular events including teachings, classes (download the VEI catalog [PDF]), and workshops. For those who didn’t look forward to filling out their end of life forms, last month we held an event to make it more pleasant. We held a pizza party to fill out the forms! We hope to offer these pizza party events regularly for those who are interested.
We are profoundly grateful to His Holiness Dagchen Rinpoche who, through his great kindness, has provided invaluable support and guidance. He has also offered to give us a teaching on death and dying later this spring or early summer.