Preparing For Death Essay Research Paper When

Preparing For Death Essay, Research Paper

When I began researching for this paper, I thought I was writing a paper

about the affect of AIDS on a person’s life. I drove to Detroit and met

with my friend Jake, who was recently diagnosed with HIV. As I talked

to him, his courage and positive outlook startled me. He had gained an

amazing attitude about life fulfillment, love and appreciation. Jake had

become a totally new person. He now appreciated everything in his life,

found meaning in what he did and really lived every minute that he had.

This caused me to look at the way that I live my life. I realized that most

of the time in my life is spent waiting for time to pass. Learning about

this new insight into life caused me to change my topic for this paper. I

was now interested in discovering all that I could about how death can

affect life. My new question was: How can the awareness of death help

me to enhance the way that I live my life?

If I were to ever discover that I had a terminal illness, I always

pictured that it would consume my life. I always thought that I would

spend every moment depressed, waiting to die. But after I talked to Jake

for a while I discovered that facing death can enhance the way a person

lives their life in so many ways. Instead of living his average life, Jake

had transformed his life into a life of meaning. Each day he appreciates

all the things around him. When he goes to work he is working towards

his goal. He has made plans for travel, and many other things to look

forward to. He has accepted love into his heart and feels it like he never

thought possible. Just talking to Jake I was able to see and feel so much

different about him. He gave out so much positive energy it almost

scared me at first. I hate to say it, but at first I doubted him, and I

thought he was I denial about his illness and about death. I thought that

the only reason that he was saying these things was because he could not

bear to think about his deadly disease. But I realized that I could learn

so many wonderful things about life from this new perspective. And I

became interested in his happiness as I reflected on my nothingness.

I became very interested in the way Jake seemed to soak up

everything in life. He seemed to become a much deeper person. His

appreciation of art, music and poetry had flourished. I went to the

library and got two books by Elizabeth Kubler-Ross, an expert on the

process of death and dying. these books focused on helping people to

live fuller lives until they die. They helped me greatly in my search for

the answer to my question.

“…When human beings have the courage to face their own

finiteness and come to grips with that deepest agony, questioning,

turmoil and pain- they emerge as new people. They begin to converse

with God, or the Source, or whatever you want to call it, and a new kind

of existence begins for them. These patients often become poets; they

become creative beyond all expectations, far beyond what their

educational backgrounds prepared them for. … The reason for all this

emerging creativity in patients is the fact that we all have many hidden

gifts within our own being that are all too frequently drowned in the

negative and materialistic struggles on which we spend so much of our

precious energy. Once we are able to get rid of our fears, once we have

the courage to change from negative rebellion to positive

nonconformism, once we have the faith in our own abilities to rise above

fear, shame, guilt and negativity – we emerge as much more creative and

much freer souls.”

In Elizabeth Kubler-Ross’ book To Live until we say Goodbye, she

features a woman named Beth who is dying of cancer. Beth spent much

of her time writing poems and music in her diary. She allowed these

poems to be published after her death. One particular poem stuck in my


“Death is staring too long into the burning sun and the relief of

entering a cool dark room.” I feel that this poem shows her courage to

look at death as a positive relief rather than a completely negative thing.

She is obviously at peace with herself and ready for her transition to


A few weeks later Jake called to see how my paper was coming.

He told me that if there was one thing that he would want me to have in

my paper it would be the fact that his attitude about life doesn’t only

apply to people who are dying. He explained that all he can do now is

live every minute that he has. And that no one knows how much time

that they have in this world definitely so why not make each moment

mean something? He feels that each person should live their life the way

that they want it. He says that he wishes that he had started living like

this years ago. I felt that was worth putting in my paper.

Another view that I really learned about while writing this paper is

the idea that death is not just a negative thing. In fact many wonderful

emotions and bonding occur along with death. When a loved one is lost,

there is a great deal of sadness, love, connecting, appreciation,

celebration, and remembering. Regardless of religious beliefs, there is

also a comforting closure to a life and it can in fact be a beautiful thing.

In cases where the death is expected, families are able to prepare and

share their love and forgiveness with one another. And after a person

has died, their loved ones are able to celebrate their life, share memories

and become closer. Exiting life, as entering it can be a beautiful and

magical thing.

Next, I went on the internet to find information about people

coping with death. Unfortunately, there were 1,967 websites that had

something to do with this topic. As I read through them, I realized that

they had really nothing to offer me. It took forever and it was a

tremendous waste of time. There were several websites however, that

had information about support groups for people with terminal illnesses.

I spoke to my mother about these support groups because she was

involved in one with her cousin who was dying of AIDS. She had a lot

of pamphlets on how these groups help people prepare for death. She

explained that the most important thing that these groups do for people is

help them to forgive themselves, give them compassion and

companionship, experience what they want and need to, make amends

with things that they feel they have left undone and to realize that death

is an inevitable yet comforting part of life.

There are very few things in life that are definite. There is a

famous saying, “All you have to do in life is pay taxes and die.” But for

something in life that is so definite so many people live their lives

without really thinking about it. I have discovered that it is so uncertain

and so unfathomable that people try to avoid thinking about it. The idea

that life will cease to exist is something that is hard to understand. It is

in fact, strange. The only thing that I can think to compare it to is a

dream. Something that seems to be on the other side of reality. Beth,

the woman in Elizabeth Kubler-Ross’ book that I referred to earlier in my

paper, wrote a poem about this.

“Love is

Honeycolored Laughter

Ambercoloerd Laughter

Scarlet swings against a backdrop of freshly fallen snow.

It does





The process of writing this paper taught me a great deal about life

and of course death. I have a new way of appreciating my future and all

the things that I have in my life. Although sometimes I fall back into my

old ways and wish the time away. It is definitely happening less often. I

am starting to notice the softness of my bed, the music that I love and the

people that matter to me all take on a new meaning now. I can get

satisfaction in things that I never really thought about before. I think it

has caused me to become even more sensitive than before. This paper

may seem strange to a conventional person and believer but for me, I

really feel that I have answered my question.



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