Archive for Death

Book Report: On Death and Dying – Part I

Note: Extracted from part of book report I submitted for the course Grief Counselling in 2017 Spring


On Death and Dying was first published in 1969, authored by Elisabeth Kübler-Ross based on her experience working with terminally ill patients and their families. That was the time when medical practitioners were highly authoritarian leaving almost no room for patients to participate in decisions and society also avoided talking about death openly and privately.


Death is a universal fear. When the time comes, patients will be increasingly fearful and lonely as they were taken out from their familiar environment and medical personnel in hospital are busily preoccupied with his heart rate, pulse, electrocardiogram or pulmonary functions, his secretions or excretions but no one try to understanding their needs, worries and feelings making the process impersonal to repressing medical personnels anxieties inside. (Chapter 1)

In Chapter 2, Kübler-Ross expressed that we are less able to defend physically as technology advanced, new weapons of increasing power of destruction continue to be invented, and this intensified our fear of destruction and anxieties towards death. Medical development to prolong life and depersonalized medical care was used to master death. Kübler-Ross invited us to face our own death for inner peace so we have the courage to encounter patients death and re-think how science and technology can bring us a more humanistic world.

Chapter 3 – 7 explained the five stage of grief, also known as Kübler-Ross model.

Stage 1: Denial and Isolation (Chapter 3)

It is a temporary defense of not accepting the shocking news. They tends to believe that the diagnosis is not right or they are recovering and need not to go through further diagnosis and treatment in a short while.

Stage 2: Anger (Chapter 4)

Patients anger will be displaced and projected randomly to family members and hospital staff through complaints and guilt or shame induction resulting in less visit and avoidance. This, then, intensifies the anger in patients a vicious cycle of alienation is thus formed. Inside their anger and attention seeking acts are the fear of being forgotten, and sometimes envy of healthy people. Thus, anger shouldnt be taken personally.

Stage 3: Bargaining (Chapter 5)

Patients attempt to ask, towards God usually, for the last reward (i.e. postponing death according to the self-imposed deadline) in exchange with good behavior. Behind this could be quiet guilt towards God (e.g. not attending church, not devoted enough into the religion) or deeper, unconscious hostile wishes that needs to be taken care of.

Stage 4: Depression (Chapter 6)

As patients illness progress, they became weaker, more hospitalization and operations were imposed, sooner or later sense of great loss” will become dominate. This is the stage which patients are preparing themselves to separate from this world and losing everything they love through grief (aka. preparatory grief), communications will shift to non-verbal one and their circle of interest decreases. Thus, there arent need to cheer them up as this normally serves our own inability to face death.

Some complications may result if patients had unresolved griefs as a result of past losses or regrets of havent taking certain opportunities when they are well.

Stage 5: Acceptance (Chapter 7)

It is a stage which patients are void of feelings and death could be a relief. Patients family will need more support than patients themselves. Their circle of interest further shrank. Nonverbal communication reminds them that they wont be left alone until the very end.

If patients family failed to distinguish or accept that patients are under this stage, blaming them for giving up too early or try real hard to prolong their life, they will feel dismay and angry to their family.

Kübler-Ross talked about Hope in patients that exist in all stages in Chapter 8. Hope maintains that their sufferings will pay off eventually by recovering, by a new drug or treatment plan that helps, if they endure it a bit longer. Hope also gives them a sense of meaning in their sufferings. Kübler-Ross reminded family members and caring professionals to maintain hope but not reinforce hope at the stage of final acceptance.

Chapter 9 focuses on how patients family can help and the adjustment and preparation needed by family members when patients become weaker and eventually pass away. Family members should maintain a balance between taking care of patients and their own needs for their well beings during patients hospitalization. 

Direct communications, discussions and expression of feelings between patients and their family members about the impending death not only can avoid anger, alienation and isolation but bring closeness and deeper sense of meaning to all. After all, patients can see through the make-believe mask of their family members. This not only prepares patients to go through anger and preparatory grief and eventually accept their impeding death, but their family members to go through similar stages. 

Kübler-Ross suggests that family members will feel void and emptiness after the funeral when relatives depart, thus right timing for human beings to talk and care them, and allow them to express their angry, despair or loneliness. Children and adolescence should be taken care of as well. For members who are pre-occupied with fantasies with the deceased, we should understand and allow them to express their feeling and not to ridicule or confront them too frequently. 

Additional interviews, their transcripts and analysis can be found in Chapter 10. For Chapter 11 & 12, Kübler-Ross shared the adversaries and oppositions from medical personnel throughout her works of interviewing terminally ill patients, and how this helps bringing a whole new perspective to medical personnel to provide humanistic and less impersonal medical care, and the courage to face death for both medical personal, patients themselves and their families.


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周國賢: 時空

去旅行嘅時候個friend係車上面播歌,聽到周國賢首 Children Song 覺得幾好,於是就去搵啦佢其他歌。呢首都唔錯,唔錯都幾好其實係因為有 D 共鳴。


兩句我好鍾意嘅 Quote

Decisions are a via regia, a royal road, into a rich existential domain – the realm of freedom, responsibility, choice, regret, wishing, and willing. – Irvin D Yalom

Live as if you were living for the second time and had acted as wrongly the first time as you are about to act now – Frank Vicktor

監製:周國賢.[email protected]

霓虹前這位潦倒老年 淪為時光機的配件
直到活到歲月到終點 沒有自己經典
挖苦你的少年 在倒後鏡片段裡一閃
然後人生蒸發一縷煙 被發現經已大殮

如何後悔 也知道 無從後退 能探險必需探險

明日在那裡再望向這裡  怕那一位較這一位更唏噓
從前起身嗌反對 而如今偷偷隱退
誰記得這少年和這老年 曾天生一對
六百歲再夢見過往六歲 這一天看那一天崎嶇
才對得起當天那個小孩 無負那個小孩

捉得到一隻蟬 誤信便會抱住這花園
懷著童真可笑的某天 立紀念碑去自勉

年年度過 怕只怕 年年白過 而據點只得句點

明日六百歲再夢見過往六歲 這一天看那一天崎嶇
才對得起當天那個小孩 無負那個小孩

還是有生活興趣 能令你生命有趣 看盡山水

如明日在這裡你又到哪裡 有這一位替那一位作先驅
年輪都刻進骨髓 年齡都不可倒退
無悔於這旅程 留低過程 曾衝出堡壘
六百歲再夢見過往六歲 這一生看那一生興衰
還記得今天演過這一場 無論去到終場

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