Death and Dying by Elisabeth Kubler-Ross
Uploaded by baadasskid69 on Oct 27, 2011
This essay discusses the work of Elisabeth Kubler-Ross and what effect her theories have on today’s elderly.
Death and dying are difficult subjects to even consider, let alone discuss. However, Dr. Elisabeth Kubler-Ross’s breakthrough book On Death and Dying identified specific stages in the death process, which in turn brought comfort to people struggling to understand the end of life.
This paper discusses her overall theory of death and dying, and how it relates to today’s elderly population.
II The Stages of Dying
According to Kubler-Ross, there are five stages in the death process: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. They’re easy to understand: denial is simply the refusal to believe that one is going to die. It’s a sort of temporary shock, often characterized by withdrawal from others, or others’ withdrawal from the dying person. The second stage is anger: “why me! I’m not finished, I’m not ready, this can’t be happening!” The third is bargaining: “Just let me live long enough to get the kids through college.” The fourth is depression, a deep sense of unhappiness at the loss of control and the inevitability of death. The last stage is acceptance, and Kubler-Ross reports that most people find peace at the very end. (“Death and Dying,” PG).
Not everyone goes through the stages in this order, and not everyone goes through each stage only once; sometimes a person who’s moved out of anger will suddenly find themselves angry again. Additionally, some people go through some of the stages simultaneously.
III Today’s Elderly
As a society, we have a great deal of trouble talking about death. Modern medicine has made it possible to “compartmentalize” it, so that dying people are kept in hospitals or long-term care facilities, not at home. They are therefore conveniently out of the way when they die, and those who are left can try to ignore the fact that they too must eventually die. Until the 20th Century, people died at home, surrounded by loved ones, and the idea of death was simply that it was part of life. We have now removed it to an isolated setting, and in so doing, imbued it with a sense of power and fear that it had not had until modern times.
What Kubler-Ross’s work did was to bring death out of the back room and make it...