I think it is important to let families know that a vigil or holding space for their loved includes the time the loved one has passed too. Here is my story that I hope inspires you.
Henk died in the early morning hours and I wasn’t ready to let him go. I kept him home with me all morning. It was just myself and my brother there with him. I decided to put on the CD he always listened to whenever he would paint. I left the room for a moment to put the CD in the player. When it began we turned it up extremely loud. When I returned to the bedroom where Henk was lying we saw that his mouth had changed from being open and downturned into a soft, warm, closed smile. He heard the music!!!
I lay in the bed with him holding him, talking to him, and listening to his music with him. After a few hours I then gave him his lavender massage for the last time and then we got him dressed. I put him in his favourite black and red plaid pants, a black T-shirt, and a pair of green socks that his mother had knit for him. I cut a lock of his hair to keep with me. I placed one of his paint brushes in one hand and a photo of us in the other.
That time that I got to spend with him was so very important and special and soothing to me.
I think it important for others to know that they can have this choice as well. During the death process people feel a loss of control over things and I believe this is another way to give them back a bit of the control. Play their favourite music, burn their special incense, sit together in the room with them and reminisce, share tears and maybe even some laughter telling stories. Dress them in what they liked, whether it be shabby or sheikh, remember it is their journey, not yours. Spend time with them. I believe they can hear us even after their last breath. I have heard that the hearing is one of the last things to shut down completely.
They will be there with you in spirit.
Take time to say farewell.