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Questions on Death and Dying

Questions on Death and Dying

Question One

Death is perceived differently by various people. Death refers to a process whereby the organs of a living human being stop functioning in an order that varies from individual to individual. Berk (2018) acknowledges that death is not an event but rather a process, as defined above. He believes that traditionally, death was referred to as loss of respiration and heartbeat. However, this definition was not strong enough because, with the advancements in technology, some vital organs of the body, including the heart, can be resuscitated and heartbeat detected. The disadvantage of the above definition is that a patient who can be resuscitated may be left to die simply because their heartbeat or breath cannot be detected. Nonetheless, its advantage is that those who refuted this definition embraced technological developments to nullify this definition and save some patients.

Most industrialized countries perceive death as brain death, where the master of reflexes, the brain, stops all its activities, which means the individual can no longer function. This definition is not formally accepted in some countries, such as China. The disadvantage of this definition is that some patients remain in a vegetative state where they are responsive and conscious but with limited functioning. Overall, many people believe that a person is dead when their heart stops functioning. Notably, I mostly resonate with the definition of loss of respiration and heartbeat because I believe this state does not allow air in the vital organs, including the brain, to allow them to function.

Question Two

Dealing with a situation involving terminating a loved one’s life can be very emotional and challenging; thus, understanding and empathy are key. I would give a listening ear to my friend and encourage him that I would be there for him through the process. The circumstances that the physician may consider while terminating my friend’s father’s life include terminal illness and ways of reducing suffering, incurable pain, informed consent of the patient, exhaustion from the treatment, and ethical and legal frameworks. My position on the issue of euthanasia is based on practical and moral considerations. I believe that euthanasia will be helpful in reducing the patient’s suffering and incurable pain, knowing that his condition cannot be reversed (Berk, 2018). Moreover, this decision would respect my friend’s father’s wishes regarding their own life and how they would like to die. Also, this gives him back his autonomy and individual right to make decisions. In addition, my friend would no longer be distressed by his father’s condition. However, some may view this as violating the value of life or the ethics of medicine to save lives.

Question Three

In this scenario, dealing with my aunt’s case would require compassion and empathy. I think that my aunt should be told of her diagnosis. One of the advantages of telling her is that she would be emotionally prepared for what is ahead of her by processing how she feels, making peace with her situation, and attempting to finish what she would like to do. Her decisions about treatments or end-of-life would also be informed since she would be aware of her diagnosis. She is also likely to spend quality and meaningful time with her family. However, not telling her would protect her from distress, worry, and anxiety from the illness. Nevertheless, this would only give her false hope. The family can tell her about her impending death by selecting the most comfortable and peaceful setting that would give her space and time to express her emotions and process how she feels. The family should be the immediate people to reassure her and provide emotional support by being present and communicating with her with sensitivity and empathy. They should also discuss her wishes and include a professional counselor.

Question Four

Based on my friend’s response, she is in the denial phase of the Kubler-Ross stages of death and dying. In this phase, patients have the challenge of accepting the reality of their illness or diagnosis. They may start believing that they will get well after medication and that they will not die. As the disease progresses, her attitude may change, and she may experience feelings of anger. She may be resentful and angry about her illness and even toward her family, friends, and medical experts. She may also plead with God to reverse her illness and prolong her life or fall into depression (Berk, 2018). In addition, she may refuse to enjoy the things she took an interest in and separate from loved ones. Towards the end of life, she may accept the reality of mortality and make peace with her loved ones.


Berk, L. E. (2018). Development through the lifespan (7th Ed.). Pearson.


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Questions on Death and Dying'

Questions on Death and Dying’

Chapter 17:
1. What is death? What does it mean to be dead? Discuss several positions as noted by your authors, and discuss the pros and cons of each position. Which position most closely resembles your own belief about what it means to die? Why?
2. A good friend has approached you with a difficult decision—his father is in the last stages of a terminal illness, and the medication he is on is not controlling the excruciating pain he experiences. Your friend tells you that his father has asked for help in dying, and your friend is torn between the anguish of watching his father suffer and his own moral reluctance to help his father die. What will you tell your friend? Discuss the circumstances in which a physician might consider terminating a patient’s life. Finally, share your position on the issue of euthanasia.
Justify and support your position. You are not required to adhere strictly to one side of the debate. Your position may validly include pros and cons from both sides. Just make sure to support your answer.
3. You have just learned that your favorite aunt is dying. Having no children of her own, she has always been extremely close to you. Your mother tells you that the doctor has not yet told your aunt of her diagnosis, as he wants to discuss it with the family first. What should be done to achieve the best possible outcome for your aunt? Should she be told? If so, why; if not, why not?
How would you advise the family to talk to your aunt about her impending death?
4. Your friend shared with you that she had been diagnosed with an aggressive form of cancer; by the time her cancer was detected, it was very advanced. Despite the fact that the doctors have told your friend that she will likely die within the next 6 months, she is optimistic that her treatment will be effective. She calmly tells you, “I’m not going to die. I’m too young to die.”
According to Kubler-Ross stages of death, what stage is your friend currently in? What changes in your friend’s attitude can you expect as the cancer progresses and the end of her life nears?
5. Your friend calls you on the telephone and shares with you that he has been diagnosed with an aggressive form of cancer; by the time his cancer was detected, it was very advanced. He informs you that it is likely that he will die within the next month, and he is feeling a very tumultuous mixture of emotions. Based on the suggestions given by your authors, what are several points that you should keep in mind when talking with your friend when you go to see him in person?
6. Imagine that you have been diagnosed with a terminal illness. You have been given the option of seeking care via either a traditional hospital or a hospice program. Which would you choose?
Why? Explain the philosophical differences between these two approaches to care and treatment.
7. After the death of her father, your friend tells you, “I don’t know how to respond. I feel numb. I don’t even know how to grieve.” How would you respond to your friend? Explain the range of normal grief reactions and the various dimensions of grieving. What can your friend expect in terms of her own reactions and adjustments to this loss?

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