Feb 26, 2008

Facing death with serenity

Do you want to share?

Do you like this story?

The prevalent attitude of denying death in our youthful, progress-oriented society has begun to weaken, and there are now more open discussions, books, and courses on death. Although people become more aware of death with age, older people are not necessarily more fearful of it. The fact that both deeply religious people and strongly convinced atheists have less fear of death than people with nominal beliefs suggests that it is the certainty of one’s beliefs about death rather than the influence of religion itself that help a person face death with serenity.

Despite the preference for a sudden death or a quiet dignified death at home, the majority of people die in hospitals, often after extended treatment. Interviews with dying patients have taught us about the experience of dying. Observers have pointed out the importance of individual differences, reminding us that people tend to die the way they have lived.

Bereavement, or the experiences of loss, tends to parallel the experience of dying and involves many may of the same emotions. Since people are expected to handle the emotional burden of bereavement in a private,rational manner that encourages the suppression of emotion, they may suffer from unresolved grief. Yet grief may be a valuable learning experience, helping us to deepen our lives and relationships with others.

Medical advances pose thorny issues that may help to put life and death in better perspective. Consequently, the practice of needlessly prolonging life has brought about a concern for a natural, dignified death, including right-to-die legislation and the hospice movement. There is also a movement toward simpler funerals that benefit the bereaved while remembering the dead. Although people may avoid the subject of death for understandable reasons, the realization that death is an integral, natural part of life may help us put our lives in order, and make the most of our time and talents.

Belows are questions for self-reflection:

  1. When learning of a friend’s death, do you ever feel, “It won’t happen to me?’
  2. What do you believe happens to us after death?
  3. Are you afraid of dying?
  4. Have you had a near-death experience?
  5. How do you think you will probably die?
  6. Can you recall your first experience of grief? Whose death was it?
  7. Have you ever experienced “good grief”?
  8. Do you have any self-destructive habits that might hasten your death?
  9. If you were suffering from a terminal illness, how would you prefer to spend your last few weeks?
  10. What kind of funeral would you like?