A Good Death: On the Value of Death and Dying

By Lars Sandman | Go to book overview

4
Facing death

Following the discussion of overall aspects of a good dying in Chapter 3, this chapter focuses on different attitudes to death and dying and features of death and dying. In other words, it discusses the best way to face death, whether we will be better at facing death having experienced the death of others, whether we have reason to adopt certain cognitive and emotional attitudes to death when dying and if so whether we should display these attitudes or not in dying. Finally, are there some sufferings we have reason to accept in dying rather than get rid of?


Acquaintance with death

In the literature and discussion on good death it is often argued that death is something we avoid getting acquainted with, something we avoid talking about nowadays and hence something we are less familiar with compared to our forebears.1 Death has become taboo, in modern society and, it is argued, was historically more familiar and less taboo, in that it was a 'routine part of daily life' (Callahan 1993: 26) and 'never far away' (Ariés 1981: 15). This has been questioned by several writers on the issue of good death, who argue (convincingly) that the issue of death has seen a revival and that death is treated not as a taboo in our society but as something private (see, for example, Walter 1994; Seale 1998).

Regardless of whether death is taboo or not in our society, we might still discuss whether we have general reasons to get acquainted with death to prepare for our own death or for the death of others. In this section we focus on whether getting acquainted with death and dying, so to speak in the flesh, would be beneficial to us. In the next section we take a look at the

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A Good Death: On the Value of Death and Dying
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Facing Death ii
  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Series Editor's Preface vii
  • Acknowledgements x
  • Introduction 1
  • 1: Ethics and Value 4
  • 2: Dying, Death and Beyond 14
  • 3: Global Features of Death and Dying 26
  • 4: Facing Death 60
  • 5: Prepared to Die 110
  • 6: The Environment of Dying and Death 133
  • 7: Ideas About Good Dying Within Palliative Care 157
  • Bibliography 161
  • Index 167
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