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Nina Nwabiani Psychology 2301 January 5, 2008

Passing Away

Death is inevitable and every one of us is destined to encounter it. Our views on death and dying can play a large role in the way we approach death. There are numerous ways society views death and dying and in 1969 Elisabeth Kubler-Ross, a pioneer in the psychological field of death counseling wrote a book, On Death and Dying where she identifies five specific stages people go through in coming to terms with death in which one can experience either phase multiple times. She wrote the book based on the notes she had written concerning 200 terminally ill people and the similar behaviors they shared before facing death. Along with the five stages proposed by Kubler-Ross one may go through two other main phases such as a pre-active phase and an active phase prior to actual death. The pre-active phase of dying can last from weeks to months whereas the active phase is shorter and lasts only a few days. The pre-active phase can consists of a person withdrawing from social events and requiring more alone-time spent, more desires to make amends with family and friends, and/or becoming more spiritual. Increased anxiety, discomfort, confusion, and agitation can occur during this time along with less interest in eating and drinking. People in this stage tend to begin to speak on death more often than normal and ask

more questions about death. The active phase is slightly different whereas the person dying is more aware of their destiny. They speak on the certainty of dying more; there is a change in their personality and they become increasingly unresponsive. Long periods of time can go by without them moving at all and their hands/feet are extremely cold to touch. The five stages identified by Kubler-Ross are denial/isolation, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. In the first stage, denial; shock and disbelief are experienced once the patient is diagnosed with terminal illness. They do not want to believe that they are dying and assume that it must be a mistake. The second stage, anger; is when the individual experiences resentment and jealousy of those who are younger and much healthier. The individual may began to ask himself, why me? Sometimes one might even show hostility towards someone for no apparent reason because they are upset with their own health condition. The third stage, bargaining; occurs when the person tries to negotiate their way out of death. A promise to god may be made of good behavior in exchange of a longer life sentence. An individual may vow to change their entire lifestyle just for the opportunity to achieve something they think they may not live to do. Depression is the fourth stage involved in the psychology process before dying. Depression can be very overwhelming for the depressor and others in his presence. There is no timeframe as to how long depression will last and everyone experiences it in different ways. Just as the person dying is filled with sorrow, so is their loved ones. Both the dying and living go through this stage of death. Lastly, acceptance is the final stage of Kubler-Ross findings revealing that once the individual goes through the first four stages they began to accept their fate. Death is then not only expected, but

not feared as well. It was also claimed that the family of the patient can also undergo these stages along with the patient. If a patient chose to do so, they can undergo hospice care which is the alternative to hospitals and nursing homes. The home of the patient is regularly used in these instances to provide a more homely comfort and affordable assistance for the patient throughout their treatment. Certain guidelines are followed by a hospice to ensure the patients personal and emotional needs are met just as much as their physiological needs. At a hospital or nursing home for nurses are more subtle with meeting mostly health needs. After a loved one has passed, the grieving process is the phase the living goes through. This phase can last a few weeks following the death of the loved one or much longer. Death not only affects the person dying, but also the living amongst the dead. Death is a terminal condition that every individual will encounter, but you can decide how you live your last days on this planet earth after being diagnosed with a terminal illness.

Death and how people go about doing it Thinkquest: 2001 http://library.thinkquest.org/C0122781/psychology/stages.htm Death and dying Stephens, Laura (July 2008) http://www.psychologytoday.com/conditions/death.html Boyd, Denise; Wood, Ellen; Wood, Samuel (2006) Mastering the World of Psychology 2nd edition Pg 266-267 Boston, MA: Pearson Education, Inc