book review: on death and dying by elisabeth kübler-ross09 Apr 2021
What are the main ideas?
- avoidance of death, especially in hospital settings, by people in the helping professions, greatly diminishes the short and long-term well-being of dying people. this avoidance can be found in doctors, nurses, therapists, technicians, chaplains, ministers, and more.
- sometimes the family members of terminally-ill patients are the biggest barriers to peaceful transitions of said patients.
- the five stages of grief (denial, anger, depression, bargaining, acceptance) “do not replace each other but can exist next to each other and overlap at times.”
- the internal conflicts/avoidances of death that doctors and nurses have tend to recreate themselves in the relationships with dying patients.
- clergy/spiritual leaders sometimes use spiritual texts to support their own avoidance of being with and talking directly to dying people.
- working through your own relationship with death can support ease with people who are actually near death
- “death is just the end of the process of dying.”
- the final stage of death, decathexis, when the dying person detaches from things that support life can be the easiest for the patient if those who will be left behind can accept the death and also let the patient go. holding on that happens can prolong the dying process in ways that make things harder/worse for the person dying.
- dealing with death is ultimately about how to live.
If I implemented one idea from this book right now, which one would it be?
let the anger that arises in relationship to dying and death have its space. because when suppressed, it causes all sort of negative short- and long-term issues.
How would I describe the book to a friend?
a must-read for anyone doing spiritual work. it’s about 30% transcribed interviews with terminally-ill hospital patients and 70% exposition about the way death is handled in hospital settings. the book focuses both on actually dying patients and the professionals and family around them. somewhat surprisingly, the better people who aren’t dying can tend to their own fears, anxieties, and relationships with death, the better people who are actually dying can die.
reminder: book review structure