Can We Move Bodies Of The Deceased For Their Comfort?

Question: When one died with medical tubes, needles, plugs, tape and such attached, is it not better to remove them first, before support-chanting upon death, AS they cause great discomfort, whether physically alive or not?

Answer: ANY movement of the body will be painful. This was emphasised by Master Yinguang in ‘The Three Great Essentials When Approaching Death’:


You absolutely must not bathe the person, change the clothes, or move the resting place. Let whatever that person’s sitting or lying position be, only adapting to its conditions. You must NOT MOVE the person even SLIGHTLY, also not face to face give rise to forms of sorrow, or even cry. As at this moment, the body is not in personal control, with one [touch or] movement thus, the hands, legs and body all receive the pain of bending, breaking, twisting and cracking. This pain thus gives rise to the mind of anger, and mindfulness of Buddha [Āmítuófó] will cease.’

In short, any shift, even attempts to create more comfort is painful. This is why any movement should be only when absolutely needed, to handle the body after support-chanting. (If in a hospital though, certification of death that involves brief touching and moving is inevitable, but extra time should be bargained for thereafter, to not touch the body before change of clothes and other movements.)

Question: However, when alive, it is really uncomfortable even to rest properly with all the equipment hooked on. If they are removed gently, perhaps the deceased can focus better on Nianfo (practice of mindfulness of Amitabha Buddha’s name – ‘Amituofo’)?

Answer: Even the ‘gentle’ tearing off of surgical tape can be painful, as all sensations are magnified by up to 9 times, which is hard to imagine. We have to [1] assume the deceased is used to the equipment by then, and [2] assume movement will indeed cause pain, even in attempts to relieve pain, and [3] we should not make it extra comfortable as it might make the deceased become complacent, to thus not Nianfo sincerely to overcome the discomfort, to thus hang around indefinitely in the body.

From experience, in the midst of sincere support-chanting, expressions of sorrow on the deceased can turn serene before and after all equipment is removed. Even those who died in awkward places and positions should not be touched. Thus, it is best to follow Master Yinguang’s instruction, which gave no other consideration, under which the body should be touched, much more moved. Our well-intended imagination of offering some comfort should not be at the expense of actually giving great suffering instead.

Related Course:

Destination Pureland: How To Have The Best Rebirth (7th Run)

Related Articles:

How To Handle Pain With Nianfo

The Third Great Essential When Approaching Death

Please be mindful of your speech, Amituofo!

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