During the deathing process the body goes through a letting go of the different sheaths or koshas. Below is a list of the sheaths, what they represent, and signs and signals of what you can expect from the patient. The different sheaths do not necessarily dissolve in a linear fashion. It is more like a process of letting go of this and that, rather than an exact progression.

Remember that when you are in the presence of a dying person, you are in the presence of grace.

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Element: Earth, Physical level

Kosha: Anamyakosha

•the body weakens, strength saps
•arms and legs become heavier and heavier

•savasana and scanning the body
•guided relaxation

Touching: hand on shoulder

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Element: Water, Mental and emotional level

Kosha: Pranamyakosha

•saliva, urine and sweat become scanty
•lips become dry
•decreased urination or incontinence

•breath techniques (emphasize outbreath, sounding ah breath)
•awareness techniques (breathe through the skin seeing where it leaves off and the air begins)
yoga nidra
•practice dying meditations

Touching: hand on belly

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Element: Fire: Breath and energetics

Kosha: Manomyakosha

•no interest in worldly activities and talking may be limited to only one or two people
•digestive activity decreases and food is no longer desired
•blood pools on the underside of the body; toes may turn blue as the blood withdraws and the body may become cool
•skin becomes mottled
•increasing physical weakness erodes emotional repression so there may be emotional outbursts that seem uncharacteristic like snapping or blowing up about things

•life review, what things were most important, what things are left unfinished, what things need to be said or done

Touching: hand on forehead

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Element: Air: Wisdom and inner knowing level

Kosha: Vijnamyakosha

•skin becomes translucent and have a slight radiance to it
•breathing can be irregular with the exhalations longer than the inhalations
•take care of unfinished business with people
•develop the capacity to just sit and be rather than do

meditation (For example, prayer, guided meditation)
•drishti (holding focus on thoughts of divinity, whatever that is to the person)
•practice being the witness

Touching: hand under patient’s hand

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Element: Ether, Bliss, Joy, Peace level

Kosha: Anandamyakosha

•feelings of peacefulness or gentleness surround the person
•time seems to slow in their presence and there is a sense of timelessness
•person becomes more loving
•lucid dreaming

•holding duality – being present in this reality and feeling expansive at the same time
•spiritual visions, archetypes
•practice letting go

Touching: hand on heart

Author's Bio: 

Donna Belk is a writer and educator in the field of death and dying. She works with individuals and families as a guide for those facing end-of-life issues. Additionally Donna offers training programs and workshops to educate people about what to expect as one dies, how to prepare for a peaceful death, and how to care for your loved one after death. Donna is a hospice worker and a Registered Yoga Teacher. She combines the philosophy of her 30 years of yoga study with the issues of death and dying. Donna holds a BA from South Texas University, but considers her most important educational credential to be her own near death experience which occurred in 1985. Donna’s teaching style is warm, light-hearted and compassionate. Donna loves sharing her hospice patient stories as a way to honor the significance of their lives.