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Free «On Death and Dying» Essay Sample

The book On Death and Dying by Elizabeth Kubler-Ross exemplifies the field of thanatology as a discipline for general social commentary. The book has been written in a simple language that ensures quick and easy understanding. The book brings to us some of the actions people should accomplish if they foresee death of their loved ones. This applies to both the sick and those who provide the surrounding environment. The book is considered a classic one since it is Ross’s first publication on the topic of death and dying. The content of the book provides several lessons and teachings to both academic and contemporary human society. For instance, the book has been used by medical nursing schools, famous psychologists, and theological seminaries. Moreover, the book exemplifies some of the basic and fundamental practices that are applied by people in a contemporary society. According to Elizabeth Kubler, she intends to make it a curriculum guide to various institutions that merit many learners in the field of psychology, thanatology, and to medical colleges as well.



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According to Kubler, there exist five stages an individual goes through before dying. They are called “five stages of dying” or “stages of grief.” During these stages of death, an individual succumbs through anger, denial, depression, bargaining, and acceptance. They make up a model that has always been used by other writers and scholars in describing and illustrating the entire issue on human death. In bereavement, the model has captured several people who make use of it. However, as a matter of fact, not all scholars and other professionals go in line with Kubler’s views as described in the book. Some scholars view Kubler’s model as very rigid. Moreover, other scholars like Bowlby have developed certain related models that consist of different numbers of stages. As much as the book clarifies issues to do with death and dying, it has attracted several critiques. Therefore, this piece of writing has endeavored to explore and critique Kubler’s views of the book, On Death and Dying: What the Dying Have to Teach Doctors, Nurses, Clergy, and Their Own Families.

Kubler’s perceptions and inspirations in regards to death and dying were inspired by her roles when she was handling terminally ill patients. She saw lack of curriculum in medical schools, yet they were addressing two critical facets on death and dying. According to the author, the five stages are not complete or cannot be treated as chronological at any time. Her hypothesis states that “not everyone who experiences a life-threatening or life-altering event feels all the five of the responses.” Moreover, she asserts that not everyone experiences these stages in the order she put them. Furthermore, the hypothesis holds that reactions to human pain and illness, loss, and death are unknown to the person as she keeps on experiencing them.

The audio book On Death and Dying by Elizabeth Kubler-Ross is quite interactive and informative. However, it attracts several reflections and perceptions since it concerns human life and death. This is based on the lessons that can be learnt by individuals such as doctors, nurses, and the clergy. The book may be difficult to read for certain people, though it is rather powerful and normative. It is a “must read” book. However, Kubler’s attention has shifted to individual interviews which lead to final decisions she argues out as part of the model on the stages of death. In the medical sphere, doctors can use the book to learn of things as continuous advances that can be used to preserve and improve human life in general. Moreover, medical procedures and policies can be made easy with the use of ideas acquired from this book.

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According to Elizabeth Kubler-Ross, people should be in a position to take stand with patients and other individuals who are at the edge of losing their lives. She asks us to be sympathetic, empathetic, and understand every medical procedure they undergo. Administration of medical services is quite subtle as a way to help such individuals. This is a straightforward medical attention practiced by medical professionals. As a matter of fact, Kubler takes the reader through a number of interviews she conducted with the dying patients. Sometimes, it is quite evident that doctors and other medical professionals find it difficult to face a dying patient. To them, this is a complicated task that cannot be solved easily. Elizabeth Kubler has involved a simple and direct example. However, she makes some assumptions and summarizations that carry no concrete evidence. In addition, these generalizations literally fit into the structure and presentation of the book in such a way that they are rarely realized. As a result of these generalizations, we are able to learn of the diverse insights which explore into issues concerning medicine and human conditions.

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Kubler’s generalizations spark various perceptions on the five-stage model. These generalizations act as frameworks for the beginning that makes people think about the predictive model of individual response during times of difficulties such as illnesses and death. In one of her interviews with a teenage girl, the readers are able to find out what people go through when they face numerous challenges that lead them towards death. What comes out through these simple interviews is that individual people find themselves at the point of loneliness depending on the environment they are in. The audience learns of the girl’s mother and how she was unfairly treated by friends and family members as she handled her ailing condition. What comes out as a central point of criticism in this book is the fact that the few interviews conducted by Kubler cannot form enough evidence and proof of the five stages of death as prescribed in the book.

According to scientists such as George Bonanno, there are no such stages of human death as stated by Kubler. According to his research, Bonanno explains that most individuals who face death often remain resilient but do not grief as thought by Ross. This sheds a certain amount of weakness in the book. As a matter of fact, stages of grief can never exist in the absence of grief. In his book called The Other Side of Sadness, Bonanno concludes that there exists a natural resilience that becomes a component factor in grief and reactions due to trauma. In a real life situation, there cannot be grief stages if grief itself is absent. Moreover, according to Bonanno, absence of grief or trauma is a sign of health and not fear as demonstrated by Ross. This fact marks one of the weaknesses portrayed by the book.

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According to Kubler’s book, research has been done with remarks and hypotheses made based on interviews conducted to a number of sick individuals. The book has not involved other expanse modes of data collection so as to arrive at a concrete decision and conclusion. According to the research by Yale University, Elizabeth Kubler-Ross only involved interviews in a bid to make a conclusion in regard to death and dying. As a result, methods employed to collect and assemble data have been not profound. The book overlooked other modes of data collection such as issuance of questionnaires amongst others; Ross only used personal views that should have been accompanied by other modes of data gathering.

In Ross’s book, we see more of grief prescription instead of description. The hypothesis has been expressed in a manner that makes it clear and plain to people. As a result, people tend to rush or involve in pressures throughout the stages of death. They fail to let these stresses happen and naturally fade away. The five stages are kind of imaginative with much likelihood to happen. I may seem that Kubler wrote nothing more but a fictitious story. It forms some kind of a “schedule.” A person is likely to be overlooked if his or her fellow friends and members of the family are going through a stage of “schedule.” People around these individuals are much concerned of what they are supposed to be feeling more than thinking about the patient. People should be celebrating their life and not ignoring him/her. Moreover, Kubler-Ross made no consideration of the environment in which the patient remains. Patients are well known to make different assumptions based on the environment they are placed in. For instance, if the environment is negative, they are bound to make negative perceptions unless otherwise.

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In conclusion, Elizabeth Ross’s book is rather significant both in and out of the medical sphere. Culturally, the book brings the meaning of death process and its purpose. Some dying individuals have been able to face death with enough strength and with minimum incidences of depression and stress. Epistemologically, this book possesses relevant significance and criticisms. According to this book, the patterns of grief help integrate human immediate feelings in regard to death together with realities of life. It is all about truth, which passes through these stages of death. The first undergoes ridicule, the second is violated and the third is being accepted. Moreover, the other hypothesis relays that emotions play significant roles in enabling people respond to such issues as death.


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