Approaching Death

A Companion's Guide to the End of Life

Approaching Death

By:  Zeylmans, Renée
Baan, Bastiaan
Mees, Philip

$22.95 Paperback (Trade paperback (UK))
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Floris Books

Limited ***

6.2 X 9.3 in
160 pg

FAMILY & RELATIONSHIPS / Death, Grief, Bereavement
HEALTH & FITNESS / Pain Management
SELF-HELP / Death, Grief, Bereavement

Just as no two people are alike, each death is individual and unique. This special book does not promote methodologies or theories but offers insights, information, and contemplations on the end of life. It supports the companions of those on their dying journey, whether volunteer caretakers, medical professionals, clerics, or loved ones. 

Renée Zeylmans taught courses on accompanying dying and bereavement for many years. She described the journey toward death as a reciprocal process, asking not only how we can travel with those who are dying and what can we give them, but also what do they give to us in the process. This book is the fruit of a lifetime of her work, and her intention was for it to enrich readers, shed a new light on difficult situations, evoke recognition, console, and offer choices. 

In addition to a host of practical information on dying and death—including questions surrounding the physiology of death, fear, fasting, funerals, music, language, and human senses—the book also includes contemplations and meditations from various worldviews and cultures. 


Foreword by Bastiaan Baan 

I. Being a Companion to a Dying Person 

1. Dying Is Being Born in the Spiritual World 
2. Death Is as a Horizon 
3. The 'Unknown' Hour of Death 
4. Developing Awareness of Our Future Realm 
5. When People Close to Us Die 
6. The Person Dying as Fellow Traveller (Monique van der Zanden)
7. When Young People Die 
8. Experiences in a Children's Hospital (Patricia de Vos)

II. Care for the Dying 

9. The Senses of the One Dying 
10. The Language of Images at the Threshold (Bert Voorhoeve)
11. Music for Terminally Ill People (Hilly Bol)
12. Artistic Therapy (Marieke Udo de Haes-Mulder) 
13. External Therapy (Pauli van Engelen and Toke Bezuijen)

III. Death Is Approaching 

14. The Physiology of Dying (Paul Schmitz, MD) 
15. Euthanasia 
16. Fasting until Death 
17. The Double: My Shadow 
18. The Moment of Dying 

IV. After Death 

19. Coincidence? 
20. The Funeral 
21. Accompanying the Dying and Christian Ritual (Bastiaan Baan)
22. Mourning by Friends and Relatives 
23. Across the Threshold of Death 
24. Staying Connected with the Dead

Further Reading 

“I have noticed a wonderful effect in my work, since reading this book. As a hospice chaplain attending the patients on the ward, I have become calmer and quieter in myself.... I feel so deeply touched by reading this book. Renée Zeylmans has such deep sensitivity and this book opens us to levels of awareness so often sadly missed when someone is crossing the threshold.” Annie Blampied-Radojcin, Hospice Chaplain and OneSpirit Interfaith Minister

“This book is an invaluable, sensitive and gracious volume of writings around death, dying and life after death. It’s like a Lonely Planet guidebook, covering everything you ever wanted to know, and more besides about the subject. It is a work of reference, which I will return to again and again and could also recommend it as a book for study by any person, or group, interested in its vitally important content.” New View

“[An] informative and compassionate book.... full of practical information as well as human stories illustrating various scenarios. The author emphasizes that the dying process is individual and that we may have to unlearn things in the process as well as learn.... A very worthwhile read.” The Paradigm Explorer

“I am captivated by the warmth throughout the contributions of Renée’s book. Flowery prose and gushing poetry do not figure here. Her experience seems well reflected, then sensitively described, so that it can become for the reader a strong prompt to inner work.”  Camphill Correspondence

Renée Zeylmans, an experienced therapist and grief counsellor, offers spiritual insights, practical information, and contemplations and meditations to support the companions of those who are approaching death.


Bastiaan Baan worked as a teacher in the Netherlands before being ordained in 1981. He was a Christian Community priest in the Netherlands and before becoming director of the priests’ seminary in Spring Valley, NY. He lectures widely, and has written many books. Lord of the Elements is his first book to be published in English. 


Philip Mees was born in Holland and has lived in the United States since 1969. He is a retired bank officer and was for many years a trustee of the Rudolf Steiner Foundation (RSF Social Finance, San Francisco CA). He is a long-time student of Rudolf Steiner’s work and one of his particular interests is the evolution of human consciousness through the ages as expressed in art, as well as in human actions in everyday life today. His principal retirement occupation is translating Dutch anthroposophical books, in which his ably assisted by his wife Linda Connell. Linda and he live in Glendale CA.