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Free «Death as a Psychosocial Event» Essay Sample


Death is an intrinsic part of human life, since it is its biological termination. Understanding of this fact may develop with age, with a propensity for a crisis to emerge in one’s psychological being on the grounds of death’s approaching and the uncertainty that comes afterwards. Religion, in certain cases may alleviate the death moment by presenting it not as a termination, but as a transition. On the other hand, death may not be recognized only as a biological, but also a social phenomenon, since not only individuals can die, but groups of individual can undergo the same stages which are pertinent to death. People may try to ignore death or, on the contrary, to prepare for it. This way or another, whether death is accepted or rejected, the attitude to it will have a profound impact on how individuals lead their lives and in what setting they to find themselves at the end.      

What is Death?

Death features a certain challenge for people in later modernity, for the reason that tendencies regarding self-identity as well as individual life suggest that mortality tends to come forth as an individual as well as a group ethical problem (Giddens, 1991). This implies that the ever growing secular influence has contributed greatly to the absence of common goal and comprehensions of living and dying. It is contended that people are all the more left to themselves to develop their personal beliefs about death in their lifetime, and there might be an emptiness that people try to deal with by means of the persistent effort to preserve or produce a defined and firm perception of who they happen to be as human beings (Giddens, 1991). If observed in a solely natural aspect, death is comparatively uncomplicated - the stopping of the bodily activities of the living being (Giddens, 1991). Kierkegaard (1846) indicates that, as opposed to natural death, "subjective death" is a "total uncertainness" - an issue about which we are able to possess no specific comprehension. If we are not able to comprehend "subjective death", in that case dying is roughly the adaptation from existence to non- existence, and the anxiety about non-being may result in one of the initial fears of the growing newborn (Moraglia, 2004). Hillman (1990) denies as non-psychological the belief that loss of life cannot be lived through, since while lifeless, people are unable to sense, and while living, we may not be dead.


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What is a Death Plan?

In getting ready for death, people may think of the location they want to be buried in, the people that they want to be with them when they are on their death bed, the place where they want to die, all the particulars of their burial process (clothes for burial, objects to be put into coffin, etc.) and legal outcomes of their death on the basis of their left will.  

How is Death Part of Life?

On the other hand, death is often encountered as an existential situation and a condition of existence: in dreams as well as psychotic conditions, whilst we go through the process of dying, or even actually sense that we are deceased; in our dreams when we see the deceased; when mates and family members pass away; in the event that we are overpowered by a perception of deprivation and void that can feel like dying; whenever we are in the hold of the anxiety of passing away; and as we desire the loss of life of other people, or our personal one.

“For some, each separation is death, and parting is dying. There are those who feel cursed, certain their life is an ineluctable progress into doom, a chain of destiny, the last link called suicide. Some may have escaped death in a holocaust or war and not yet have inwardly escaped. . . . Phobias, compulsions, and insomnia may reveal a core of death”. (Hillman, 1990, pp. 64-65)

We may die in our spirit on a daily basis, just as we die in the human body. Similarly as body tissues pass away and tend to be regenerated, this way the spirit is reinstated by the death encounter, due to dying to the false impression that death is not able to get to us, and with a new interest in the necessity of life (Moraglia, 2004). For the reason that living and dying are thoroughly connected, they are comprehensible solely with regards to one another (Hillman, 1990). Furthermore, "if only the living can die, only the dying are really alive" (Hillman, 1990, p. 59). Additionally, should life along with death be irreversibly related, any activity that rejects and fights against death will harm life at the same time.

How Do We Manage Death?

Devoid of a steady target point, existence is progressively focused on an interest in our personal bodies. On the other hand, the frailty of the individual physique and the inescapable fact of its death suggest that the feeling of steadiness that it offers is naturally conditional, and risks of existential safety turn out to be more evident. Although this is frequently looked at in a disconsolate manner, the concept of reflexive modernity proposes that dying as well as deskilling has effects for emergent life-politics in later modernity, which is indicative of the opportunities for reflexive re-skilling regarding ethical issues (Erikson, 1982). Erikson (1982) identified the substance of wisdom as a separate perception of life brought on by the closeness of dying that could be attained solely in the later phases of human existence. In accordance with Jung (1933), the part that the understanding of mortal condition should perform in our existence is significantly modulated by an individual's age. A youthful individual should be concentrated on completing the assignments that are proper to that point of living: building a strong, properly socialized personality; setting up a family; and getting a spot for oneself in the grown-up world (Jung, 1933). There can be no demand to allow space for thoughts of passing away in the psychological living of the youthful individual. Accordingly, the way youngsters, concentrated on past or death, could betray the necessities of life, an individual beyond their prime time, who rejected to face dying, could be no less out of line with the path of their own life:

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“From the middle of life onward, only he remains vitally alive who is ready to die with life. For in the secret hour of life's midday the parabola is reversed, death is born. The second half of life does not signify ascent, unfolding, increase, exuberance, but death, since the end is its goal. The negation of life's fulfillment is synonymous with the refusal to accept its ending. Both mean not wanting to live, and not wanting to live is identical with not wanting to die”. (Jung, 1934/ 1981, p. 129)

The initial phase of managing death is rejection, or the "no, it just could not be real" period (Kubler-Ross, 1969). The individual might reject the fact that the disease is actually developing in them and behave as if very little were out of order. After that, the rage phase arrives, wherein the individual goes through profound sensations including anger, disappointment, and bitterness, which usually are aimed at other people. Lastly, there is the negotiating phase, in the course of which the person accepts the disease, yet tries to bargain for more time to participate in preferred events or to finish uncompleted issues. In a way, negotiating is an effort to postpone the unavoidable. After that, depressive symptoms take hold, wherein the individual gets to be despondent, sorrowful, and miserable. Throughout this period, the patient could possibly grieve over issues (such as impaired relations) that are presently forfeited, along with items that may be forfeited afterwards. Ultimately, people arrive at the phase of acknowledgement, where they struggle against the unavoidable no more and get ready for their approaching loss of life. In the course of this period, they likewise encounter a sensation of inside and outside contentment (Kubler-Ross, 1969).

What Do We Do to People When They Die?

When people are dying, it could eb said that there are basically three responses all depending on how well we know the person dying. The responses could be sympathy, rejection or indifference. When a person is sick and dying, it may happen that his or her child may not want to accept this fact and wish to remember his or her parent during their better years and refuse to be near. Others, may most naturally feel sympathetic about the person dying and spend all their free time near the death bed of their close person. Still, others, may simply take the fact of death as granted and will not do anything special about it.      

How Do We Imagine Death?

Levinson (1978) held that a consideration for death as the termination of the physical processes in a human body could be identified at any stage of existence, however, he added that it amassed power in the senior years. During each phase of our living, he stated, we are equally young and also aged. At a profound psychological stage, we constantly go through, even though in varying styles and effectiveness, the conflict involving youth, which is the desire for rebirth, creative imagination, and development, and age, which is the feeling of stagnancy and decaying (Levinson ,1978). It takes place in the course of maturity, and most significantly throughout the midlife adaptation that happens at approximately age 40. To put it differently, youth/maturity difference is felt with an increasingly higher power. It is likewise at this point (midlife) that it gets to be obvious that this difference has its basis in the conflict involving the desire for eternal life and the inescapable fact of passing of life. Therefore, Levinson (1978) put the problem of death straight at the heart of the grown-up period and most precisely in the course of the midlife adaptation.In this interval, an individual understands that the better years have ended and that senior age together with death are no more a distant possibility:

“At 40 a man knows more deeply than ever before that he is going to die. He feels it in his bones, in his dreams, in the marrow of his being. His death is not simply an abstract, hypothetical event. An unpredictable accident or illness could take his life tomorrow. Even another thirty years does not seem so long: more years now lie behind than ahead”. (Levinson, 1978, p. 215)

This perspective is strengthened by the initial signs of psychic and physical downfall, the sickness and departure of mates, and the increasing age of parents.

Individuals contain a desire for an eternal existence, Levinson (1978) contended. For this reason it is so challenging to be prepared for one's loss of life. For a lot of people, this problem is complicated by the dread that their existence has not meant a lot, that it could have been squandered, that they have never realized themselves, along with that there might not be a sufficient period of time to try to come up with a new start.  Signs of hopelessness could possibly engulf an individual close to the conclusion of their existence. In addition, Levinson (1978) identified them significantly sooner than that, and that is at the heart of the midlife adaptation.

What is a Suicide?

The perspective that probably most clearly features the suicide as a deliberate taking of one’s life belongs to J. Hillman (1990). We learn his thoughts with regards to dying as they are explained in his work "Suicide and the Soul" (1990). In Hillman's perspective, living as well as dying are coherently and consistently connected. One can likewise discover there a pointed resistance to Fromm's (1964) perspectives. In accordance with Fromm (1964), living and dying make up totally antipode realities. Therefore, confrontation with death may not be put off to the latter half of lifespan, just as Hillman (1990) quotes from Jung (1933) to explaine it:

“The moment I am born I am old enough to die. As I go on living I am dying. Death is entered continuously, not just at the moment of death as legally and medically defined. Each event in my life makes its contribution to my death, and I build my death as I go along day by day. (Hillman, 1990, p. 59)

W. James (1962) contended that spiritual morals present a lot of individuals the single solution to steer clear from suicide. They function for the sake of this purpose by giving human existence an importance that it would be short of in any other case.

Assisted suicide laws are different in many countries across the globe and even within a country depending on a specific administrative unit. For example, in the USA only Oregon and Washington allow physician assisted suicide. The patient takes action or asks a physician to administer life-terminating measure in case the sufferings are unbearable for a person and there is no objective potential chance for recovery. It will not be a criminal act.  

Religion and Death

If a person holds on to certain religious beliefs, it is quite often that his or her religion will not allow the person to terminate his life. What is more, it may be considered a great transgression, like in Christianity, since a person is God’s creation and only He has the privilege of taking life, since He is the one who gave it. Suicide is still a murder, in this case, the only distinction being that the offender and the victim is the same person. Thus, it could be suggested that religion is a substantial preventive factor in terms of suicidal inclinations. What is more, religion in certain cases may alleviate the death moment by presenting it not as a termination, but as a transition

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Death as Social Rather Than Biological Phenomenon

Zell (2003) evaluates opposition to change in a qualified organization, specifically, the physics division of a major research institution, and points out the similarities between the stages of managing individual death and the stages of an organization’s transformation though change. In other words, the organization had to “die” first to be transformed. This process went through a serious opposition.  Confronted with essential adjustments in its setting, the division had to go through required improvements in its key functions of educating as well as researching in order to endure. At first, a lot of educators opposed the adjustments, yet, as time passed, substantial adjustments in the divisional primary activities as well as tactical course ultimately took place.

An Examination of interview records gathered from educators throughout a 2-year interval exposed that the division's transformation was strongly similar to dying, recognized by Kubler-Ross (1969) in her research of terminally ailing individuals.

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The practice of grieving was identified as developing through several specific stages, or stages (Volkan, 1981). The most commonly cited of these types of "stage hypotheses" is the one of Kubler-Ross (1969), who discovered that terminally ailing individuals proceed through fiev abovementioned particular phases.  Similar to the terminally sick, the division went through intervals of rejection, rage, negotiating, melancholy, and, ultimately, acknowledgement. In line with the phenomenon, Shilling (1993) said:

“The major marginal situation is the individual confrontation with death, because this can radically undermine and call into question the 'cognitive and normative operating procedures' of day-to-day life” (Shilling 1993:178).


The modern understanding of death as well as deskilling is based upon several important perspectives of the way death turns into an unseen and personal issue. One of such perspectives by Aries (1991) states that the unseen manner of contemporary death is a sign of the reduction of social solidarity, and the growing influence of authorities over public and private life. According to a different position, by Elias (1978), the privatization of passing of life may be an outcome of civilizing activities natural for modernity in which psychological existence is vulnerable to high degrees of self-regulation and control. In spite of the distinctions that can be found between these explanations, both propose that contemporary communities and individuals experience troubles in managing loss of life and therefore try to  set it aside.

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Ultimately, people arrive at the phase of acknowledgement where they struggle against the unavoidable no more and get ready for their approaching loss of life. In the course of this period, they likewise encounter a sensation of inside and outside contentment (Kubler-Ross, 1969).

Loss of life is considered as an ultimate illustration of the loss of common meanings, or, in other words, deskilling, in contemporary culture, and as a primary life-political matter in the concept of later modernity. Passing away is one of the several inevitabilities that we encounter in life, and it may be asserted that one can assess a society by the approaches whereby it handles death. The way one looks at death has a critical impact on the social existence people develop collectively. This concerns the approach to the acceptability of euthanasia whether it is a rightful thing to do or, on the contrary, considered an unlawful and an immoral practice.


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