Life and Death Overtakes Essay

About Death Death is a dreaded word. It is a word that many people would not want to talk about. Death is considered a morbid word and many would not find this as an engaging topic. According to Patricelli (2007), “[d]eath remains a great mystery, one of the central issues with which religion and philosophy and science have wrestled since the beginning of human history. Even though dying is a natural part of existence, American culture is unique in the extent to which death is viewed as a taboo topic. Rather than having open discussions, we tend to view death as a feared enemy that can and should be defeated by modern medicine and machines”.

There are also people that have negative connotations about death, rendering life even meaningless because of it. Death appears to render life meaningless for many people because they feel that there is no point in developing character or increasing knowledge if our progress is ultimately going to be thwarted by death (Augustine, 2000). But the author contends that there is a point in developing character and increasing knowledge before death overtakes us: to provide peace of mind and intellectual satisfaction to our lives and to the lives of those we care about for their own sake because pursuing these goals enriches our lives.

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From the fact that death is inevitable it does not follow that nothing we do matters now. On the contrary, our lives matter a great deal to us. If they did not, we would not find the idea of our own death so distressing–it wouldn’t matter that our lives will come to an end. The fact that we’re all eventually going to die has no relevance to whether our activities are worthwhile in the here and now: For an ill patient in a hospital a doctor’s efforts to alleviate pain certainly does matter despite the fact that ‘in the end’ both the doctor and the patient will be dead (Augustine).

Our fear of death lead us to refer to it using euphemistic figure of speech . Those who died were referred to as those “ who are no longer with us”, “ have passed away”,; “meet his maker”. We try to dispel some of the word’s morbidity by referring to it in terms that are comforting. It is human nature to avoid the things or issues we fear. Besides the point, death remains an emotive issue that needs serious discussion. The word evokes feelings of fear, sadness, grief, despair and hopelessness. Death means the end- termination of life in layman’s term.

Perhaps of all emotions and feelings about death- fear is the most common. People react differently about death. But fear remains the most common feeling about death. Fear results from uncertainty, because of the mystery that surrounds death. Death remains a mystery for many people. This fear has less to do with self-preservation but more of facing the uncertain future, the fear of change, and most of all fear of facing one’s life squarely and coming up empty-handed (Arnold, 2007). It is the unknown that makes us fear death. People do not know what happens in death.

According to Stephen Knapp (n. d. ) “[i]t It is natural to feel fear of the unknown. In regard to death, this fear may be of what might happen during the process of dying, such as the pain of a terminal illness, nausea, vomiting, or even fearing abandonment by those around you. The fear of death may also be perpetuated by the sadness of the family around the dying person, or the hopelessness of the doctor, or the nurses who feel they may have failed to keep the person alive”. This fear of the unknown does not stem from self-preservation, according to Arnold (2007)

A death in a family is considered a loss of a loved one. Some may accept the loss as inevitable, especially if the dead has been suffering from debilitating illness. Death in this case is accepted with relief- both for the family who could not bear to see a loved one suffers longer- and for the dead who would no longer feel pain. For these people death is seen as the released of the dying loved one from the great burden of the diseased body (Knapp). And a person suffering from intense pain will opt to die, and this is the justification of those who advocates voluntary euthanasia- the right to die.

But death becomes a source of grief especially when it comes unexpectedly. like in murders and accidents. Most of the time death of a loved one due to either of the two is almost unbearable, too painful and unacceptable. Sometimes, in their extreme grief, they would be questioning God for taking the life of the loved one. But almost all deaths results to loss and grief for those left behind. Grief is a normal emotional reaction to deaths of loved ones. It is often described by those that have gone through it as a heaviness that isn’t easily lifted.

It can sometimes be so pronounced that it affects a person’s physical self and can even mimic illnesses (Morrow,2009). Death or end of life stage in medical parlance indicates that all human body organs cease functioning. Death occurs when all vital functions of the body including heartbeat, brainactivity (including the activity of the brain stem), and breathing stop irreversibly. Other signs of death include no pupil reaction to light, no jaw reflex (the jaw will contact involuntarily like the knee if tapped with a reflexhammer), no gag reflex (touching the back of the throat will induce vomiting), and no response to pain.

Those in hospital and being treated with terminal illnesses but whose body no longer response to medical treatment death is expected. The obvious manifestation involves that death has come is when all the life saving devices are removed from the patient. The responsibility of the nurses to the patient does not end with his or her death, they are now expected to comfort the grieving family left behind. Nurses who are no longer stranger with death are touched by it but have no time to grief- because they have to comfort the family. Grief is a universal emotion and those in the medical and health profession are not spared.

How does one come to terms with death even his or her own? How does one cope with death? While we know the fact that we are mortals and that we will all die at the appointed time, still the fear for life remains and will do anything for life preservation. “For the living know that they shall die ( Book of Ecclesiastes,9:5)”. Death is inevitable for all of us. According to Durbin (2004) our life is but a short journey from the cradle to the grave. We are just passing here on earth and we will leave at our time. “ For some death comes early in life, for others in the middle years and for some it comes with old age.

Whatever period of life death occurs, it comes to all. Death is the great equalizer for it comes to the rich and poor, the loved and unloved, the happy and the sad, to the male and female, the good and the bad. In some cases death can be postponed or delayed, but eventually it comes to all. None of us are exempt as we realize that one day, we too must die (Durbin)” . Coming in terms with death begins with understanding death. As discussed earlier, our fear of death is actually fear of the unknown. We don’t know what goes on when dying. One of the reasons for his of course, is that we don’t have prior experience about death or even dying. According to Patricelli “[s]ome of the discomfort with the death and dying process has come about because death has been removed from common experience. Typically, we no longer die at home surrounded by family and friends, but in hospitals and other health care facilities… This lack of personal experience with death and dying only adds to our sense of trepidation and fear. Accepting and understanding that death, dying and the grief that goes with will help us in coming to terms even with our own deaths.

These are pervasive aspects of the realities of human existence. Referring to the importance of understanding these aspects of our human experiences, Durbin contends that [w]e can only achieve fullness of living by understanding and appreciating these realities. The absence of such understanding and appreciation may result in unnecessary suffering, loss of dignity, alienation and diminished quality of living. Though education about dying, death and bereavement should be an essential component of the education process, it has been greatly neglected in both formal and informal education. Samraj (2005) believes that the lack of knowledge and ignorance about death is the reason why we fear death. Fear of death is anxiety (or emotional recoil) experienced in anticipation of the event. Such fearful anticipation is basically the result of a failure to observe the death process in others and to study that process through systematic education and self-observation. According to the author, death is a necessary, purposeful, and (ultimately) benign psycho-physical process. It is similar to the process of giving birth, except that it occurs to both males and females.

As in the case of preparing for childbirth, you must study the death process bodily and through observing others. Above all, tension and fear must be relaxed during the death process (as it must be in the case of a woman in childbirth) (Samraj). A key to understanding about death is by learning about different views and perspective. A factor in understanding death is by trying to find meaning of the term from the different views and perspectives about it. Physiological views of death describes it as cessation of all critical functions of the body and functioning of vital organs and the ability to sense or feel.

In this instance the brain and heart stop functioning; no breathing; the body is growing numb and the person slips into coma. On the other side, philosophical views of death describes it as the end of life or the end of physicial existence, and absence from the world – “when one is no longer physically present (in the world), which also meant the end of all hope, wishes and desires,and loss of that, one holds dear. Death is the stage of life when there is no hope for the future, nothing to look forward to. It is the inability of the person to look beyond or wish for as it is the final stage of life.

Death forces the person to leave everything behind; it takes everything away. It is inevitable; , unwanted fact of life, as a “grey area”, an unknown dark area, which no one has previously experienced. It is perhaps this perception that evokes fear in people. From the spiritual perspectives, the meaning of death is merely separation of the body from the soul. The soul leaves the body for communion with the Divine. Death marks the beginning of a new life. In the words of a participant, a spiritual leader, It is the process of moving away from this materialistic world and your soul is meeting with God, the supreme authority.

It is moving to a higher level. It is a beginning of new life. It is only end of physical entity of our physical being, when the soul leaves the body’. Speaking in the same wavelength, death meant to some as the end of merely the physical existence and the beginning of a new life. It is part of a continuous process. Still another spiritual view held that death is not the end but growth; a great leveler that happens to anyone irrespective of color, race, age, gender and beliefs.

Another view believes that every moment since we took birth on this earth, we are inching towards death’ (Manghrani and Kapadia, 2006). Understanding death and coming terms with it, is important especially to nurses who are constantly faced with death in the care of patients. Unless the nurse is has come to terms with death, how could she or he be expected to help the patients and even their family. Facing death is difficult to patients and their families and the nurse in this trying times most of the time they are left with no one but the nurse to give emotional support.

How can the nurse or the care giver give the needed support when she or he is not prepared emotionally to face such situation. There is wisdom in what Dame Cicely Saunders said :“Unless we are occupied in our own search for meaning, we may not create the climate in which patients can be helped to make their journeys of growth through loss. ” “Unless we are occupied in our own search for meaning, we may not create the climate in which patients can be helped to make their journeys of growth through loss (Man, 2007).. ” REFERENCES Arnold, Johann C. (2007).

Be not afraid:overcoming the fear of death. Retrieved August 27,2010. http://www. plough. com/ebooks/pdfs/BeNotAfraid. pdf Augustine, Keith. (2008) Death and the meaning of life. Retrieved Aug. 25, 2010. http://www. infidels. org/library/modern/features/2000/augustine1. html Knapp,Stephen. (n. d. ) Dispelling the fear of death. Retrieved Aug. 26, 2010. http://www. stephen-knapp. com/dispelling_the_fear_of_death. htm Manghrani,N and Kapadia, S. (2006). Death and Dying: Strategies for improving quality Of life of terminally ill patients. Man, Lam Wai. 2007)“Spiritual Care approaches in death and dying”. HKSPM News- Letter. Morrow, Angela. (2009). Grief and mourning: what’s normal and what’s not?. Retrieved Aug. 27, 2010. http://dying. about. com/od/thegrievingprocess/a/griefprocess. htm Patricelli, Kathryn. (2007). Death and dying. Introduction. Retrieved Aug. 27,2010. http://www. mentalhelp. net/poc/view_doc. php? type=doc;id=11985;cn=174 Samaraj, A. (2008). Easy Death. Retrieved August 26, 2010. http://www. easydeathbook. com. http://www. faqs. org/health/topics/39/Death-and-dying. html


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