Approaching Death

A Companion's Guide to the End of Life

Approaching Death
Renée Zeylmans By (author)
Bastiaan Baan Introduction by
Philip Mees Translated by
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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


“The idea of the transience
Of all earthly things
Is a source of boundless suffering
And a source of boundless consolation.”
 —Maria von Ebner-Eschenbach (1830–1916)

No two people are alike, and 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 


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)


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)


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


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

Author Bio

Renée Zeylmans, a psychosocial therapist, is active in the field of dying, loss and grief issues, as well as in areas of other life questions, including autobiographical and relationship problems. In 1974, after a just a few years of marriage, her husband died and she was left with three young children. She then decided to dedicate herself to those who experience a heavy grieving process. After working as a counselor for a number of years and after intensive training, Renée started a conversation practice in 1988 in Zeist. She is currently a teacher for training courses and has offered courses for many years, including a course on dying and grief counseling in Zeist.

Bastiaan Baan was born in 1949 in The Netherlands. After finishing Waldorf school, he studied to become a class teacher. He worked and studied for a year in Los Angeles, worked with teachers in Gandhi Schools in India, and then became a class teacher in a Waldorf school in The Netherlands. After seven years of teaching, he studied at the seminary of The Christian Community in Stuttgart. After his ordination as a priest in 1981, he worked in several congregations in The Netherlands until 2013, when he became the director of the priest training of The Christian Community in Spring Valley, New York. In 2019, he returned to The Netherlands, where he lives with his wife, four sons, and ten grandchildren. Several of his books on spirituality and religion have been 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.