Death: The Final Gift

Topics: Afterlife, Death, Life Pages: 5 (1706 words) Published: December 5, 2013
Final Gifts Research Paper
The average person knows very little of death; it is a feared topic and not openly discussed. We misunderstand the process, do not know what to expect, and there is great mystery surrounding the end of life. The authors saw a much-needed chance to educate the public, to allow them to learn from death, even to appreciate it as a natural part life. The patient does not know what they are facing, and are burdened with extreme fear. Many have unresolved issues in their lives, and these can be the source of great agitation and even panic as they approach the end. The caregivers, both family and the medical team, use medication to ease physical pain but this is often not enough to produce peace. The authors know from experience that helping the patient requires more then simple pain management. One must listen and interpret what is happening, to help alleviate any concerns the patient has. Callanan and Kelley share the wisdom and the “gifts” patients offer in death, by approaching each situation with “open hearts… and minds” and celebrating the patient’s life. (Callanan & Kelley, 1992)

The authors coin the phrase “Nearing Death Awareness” to summarize the dying process. (Callanan & Kelley, p.21) The dying have an “awareness” of what is happening to them, and possibly even a glimpse into an afterlife. With some basic education, families are taught to care for loved ones, making them comfortable, which change to look for. The dying should be given the choice on how and where they will spend their final time. They most often choose the familiar setting of home, surrounded by loved ones. Hospice nurses and other medical professions are available on site, giving care and support not only to the patient, but also to the family. Death is portrayed in our modern society as dramatic and painful. Often family members become simple spectators, playing no role in providing comfort leaving everything to the medical staff. (Callanan & Kelley, p.38) Callanan and Kelley seek to make families and friends more involved in the dying process; providing care and comfort. They understand what their loved one is experiencing, learn from it, and help them pass with dignity and peace. The passing will often leave us with clues, some related to their lives, professions, hobbies; and these are ways of them telling loved ones that they are dying, an attempt to make final communications. It is important for the family to listen for such clues and interpret them, to communicate with their loved one and reassure them that they will be fine; the arrangements have been made. Visions of an afterlife and visitations by deceased loved ones are common with many patients before death. This seems to offer comfort to most who experience this, and they are often unable to describe in words they joy and beauty that they witness. The authors recognize these as supernatural and spiritual events. They serve to ready the patient for the afterlife, and join loved ones who have passed on. The scientific community disputes such assertions; viewing such occurrences as simple functions of the brain as it is failing and dying. Such “visions” would then be common to patients, as a shared physiological process we all experience from dying and near death experiences. The authors do not attempt to explain or dispute the reality of these supernatural events. They share what a loved one might experience as they near death to educate. The experiences they have witnessed and the joy and comfort brought about in an extremely difficult time by these spiritual events.

The patient and their family will go through five stages in dealing with impending death: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. Denial is a result of shock; it keeps those involved from accepting the reality of the situation. (Callanan & Kelley, p.44) Denial should never be encouraged, as it can give false hope, and make the diagnosis...
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