Switching off life support  for a loved one or not – it is surely one of the most agonizing decisions a human being can be faced with.

At the moment the death of  comedienne Joan Rivers is all over the news. She went into cardiac arrest while undergoing a surgical procedure. Her daughter Melissa was then suddenly faced with one of the most nightmarish decisions a human being could ever hope to make.

There  is plenty of information available on-line (I just ran a search). Many aspects of this decision have been presented and discussed by various professionals: the medical aspects, the legal aspects, the traumatic aspects for the relatives who need to live with the decision they make, either way.

What I did not find during my search was a shamanic or spiritual perspective on a decision of this magnitude. I am a shamanic practitioner and teacher. As any of my colleagues could tell you, there are ways of communicating with the soul of a person who has moved into a vegetative or state or profound state of unconsciousness. This means that in our line of work there is only one ethical way of dealing with this issue  –  a way that most people are not offered as an option gathering around the hospital bed of a loved one! This way involves making a spiritual journey to the soul of the person affected to consult them about the decision.

The “infra-structure of normal life” does not allow for this. Once someone is unconscious, any decision falls to the person appointed as their ‘legal guardian’. You may find it hard to believe that there is another way, but bear with me for a moment. If you could entertain, just for a moment, the concept of a person’s soul continuing to exist in the timeless realm once their body dies and disintegrates, you can maybe also imagine the possibility of a highly skilled professional (not just anybody and certainly not anyone who has personal interests or overwhelming emotions in the case) contacting the soul of a comatose person and asking them a series of questions.

Here are some of the questions I ask in such a case:

–  Are you ready to transition? Is your body being kept artificially alive  holding you back from death, and from continuing your journey in other realms? Or would you prefer the life support to continue for the time being?

– Is there any unfinished business that needs taking care off?

This could be practical or emotional issues: promises to care for children,  elderly parents or even pets) or spiritual issues: forgiveness work, the releasing or return of soul parts (read Sandra Ingerman’s book Soul Retrieval for more information about this), the stating of wishes about what is to be done with the body after death etc.

– What would you like me to tell your family faced with the decision?

– If you have decided to go, would you like me to attend the switching off procedure and accompany you some of the way (i.e. psycho pomp work) and call in the Lords and Ladies of Transition for you, the great luminous beings who will take you to exactly the right place in the afterlife?

– Is there anything else I can do for you or communicate on your behalf?

This may be the wish to actually be released from physical existence and die, reassurance for the loved ones that no longer being ‘in body’ does not mean ‘no longer existing in any form’, it could be things like: “Tell so-and-so that I love him/her and that I regret not having the chance of telling him/her face to face again’… and so forth.

But once all the “spiritual legwork” is done, and the family knows that it is the soul decision of the loved one and not them “taking someone’s life and having to live with that for decades to come”, switching off the life support machine should done ceremonially – meaning that it becomes a spiritually charged occasion where everyone gathers to lovingly sing/chant the released soul into the other world.

And wouldn’t that make the decision less agonizing and less haunting?

I have a brief version of this information up on my homepage:



but today I got a nudge from Spirit to write a proper article/blog about it. It is vital and life & death -changing information – as I perceive it.

Last but not least I would also like to point out that a very similar procedure (of obtaining soul guidance on major decisions)  can be followed in the case of: unborn or newborn babies, people with serious disabilities and no or limited speech and so forth.

At the  ‘lighter end of the scale’ I have even done work with unborn babies asking about the name they would like to have or what naming ceremony they would like, upon arrival in the world. So this technique (of using mild states of altered consciousness to obtain crucial information on the level of soul) can be used during death/birth and times of crisis/serious illness. Really, it can used at any time when important decisions need to be made.

I wish more people realised this!!!

Imelda Almqvist