Death And Bereavement Essay Research Paper Death

Death And Bereavement Essay, Research Paper

Death is not what it used to be. For most of human history,

medicine could do little to prevent or cure illness or extend life, and

living to a reasonably old age seemed to come merely with luck. Dying

was generally a religious event, not a medical one. Because many

deaths took place at home, usually family took care of their dying

relatives, and usually had a personnel and direct relationship with the

dying, and death in general. These days most people live their lives

without thinking of the reality that they might face this kind of reality,

or in general ?a wake up call?. I will explain to you a profile of dying

and death in the United States, and overview of research on attitudes

and practices related to the end of life. I will also explain cultural

characteristics that influence attitudes and practices related to the end of

life, and the technological and organizational characteristics of health


Americans, on average live much longer than than they did by the

end of the 19th century, and death in infancy is now very rare. The

major causes of death now, and a 100 years ago are very different. The

dying process today seems to be much more extended due to medical

treatment. Death can often be postponed due to reasons like extended

treatment. Because of situations like this, the task of preparing for

death can often be neglected, and important relationships can be missed.

At 1900, the average life expectancy was less than 50 years. In 1995,

the average life expectancy reached 75.8 years, marking an all-time

high. Women expect to live to 79, and men 73. These statistics

however, vary with racial differences. Black males death rate is nearly

twice of white males, same as black females. Also, a century ago people

had to deal with diseases such as influenza, tuberculosis, and diphtheria,

which at that time were life threatening illnesses. Although these

diseases in the most part can be cured, we are plagued today with life

threatning diseases such as HIV which is a big threat to our society,

especially the black community. Also cancer is a major illnesses that is

more frequent in modern times.

Since then, death has moved out of homes and into institutions. In

1949, national statistics showed that 49.5 percent of deaths occurred in

institutions such as hospitals, and nursing homes. In 1992,

U.S.mortality statistics showed that 57 percent of deaths occurred in

institutions. Although sites of death vary by age, this shows that there

has been a rapid change in health care. What brought this change, and

what alternatives are being used to treat sick and elderly patients.

In the U.S., dying at home, has been the choice of many sick,

and dying patients, overviewing an institutional process of dying. Many

people who are terminally ill choose to remain at home, or enter a

homelike alternative care setting such as hospice. A key perspective in

hospice and home care is to obtain high quality care that controls pain,

and can offer the highest quality of their remaining life. This is also

known as palliative care. Palliative care programs are most often

offered through hospice and home care settings found in hospitals.

Palliative care is a type of pain management can help in situations

where pain is so terrible that suicide is almost welcomed. For elderly

people, the decision to begin hospice, or home care is often decided

because of basic living arrangements. Many people label this type of

care as ?death with dignity?. These programs on the otherhand can not

be misused. Bringing hospice professionals in at a last minute situation

can limit the effectiveness that perhaps a hospital facility would bring.

Although these statistics are accurate, it still gives us little insight

where sick patients spend their last dying months here on earth. For

example, this does not capture the experience of older patients who

lived in nursing homes, and are then transferred to hospitals on the day

they die. According to a survey on the Last Days of Life (SLDOL), 33

percent of women aged 64 to 75, but only 17 percent of those aged 85

and over died in the hospital after being transferred there from a private

residence in the community within the last three months of their lives.

Attitudes toward dying in American culture is suprisingly limited.

Much of the physiological construct has focused on death anxiety,

which is a realistic fear of a real threat, or an overrreaction to a general

prospect of death. For example, fears or concerns over death seem to

branch into fears of pain, and suffering, fears of the unknown, and

concerns about death of significant others. Broader public opinions

rarely deal with death. One poll that was taken by the Association of

retired persons(AARP) showed that the majority of retired people were

not concerned with death. Another poll showed that in general

Americans rarely thought of death. Experts say this is clearly portraying

death anxiety, or denial. They say America is ?clearly a death denying

society?. On the otherhand this poll also stated that 9 out of 10 patients

if were clinically ill , be in a program such as the hospice.

I found 2 interesting scenarios dealing with death and bereavement

and I found 2 very interesting. One I found on PBS online. It was

called ?Mickey: Learning from death.? Mickey had watched his father,

and 2 close friends pass away in a span of 4 years. His father who had a

coronary died, his friend Marsha, who fought breast cancer, which at

many times she was in great denial, and also a friend named Richard

whom was more willing to face the situation. But unlike Marshall, he

was unwilling to express his fears of dying. Mickey said that?his

experience of helping family, and friends die has forced him to think

more about his own death, and the possibility. Another situation I found

was on a website called dealing with death. Its a website where people

can post up their experiences, and how they are coping with them. One

situation was from a lady named Kay . This was posted in late August.

She had lost her husband to pancreatic cancer, after a 2 and a half year

battle. She said ? I cared for him at home, which wasn?t always easy,

because I am disabled myself?. She also stated?Hospice was wonderful

in visiting us twice a week, and offering advice when I asked.? When a

person is dying at home, anticipatory grief (in physiological terms the

mourning of someone close to you before they have died) in a caregiver

can be intense. The physical and emotional stress can only bring about

much more grief.

Dealing with memories become a task for newly bereaved person,

but there are steps you can take to cope with it. Grief seem to heal best

when you share it with others. Anticipate holidays and other

anniversaries, and plan to be with friends, and family that are close to

you. This advise has helped extremely in my life. I lost an aunt to

cancer last year, and sharing my memories with people that loved her as

much as I did has always eased my pain. Most important, be kind to

yourself as you experience these mixed feelings and emotions.

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