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Elisabeth Kubler-Ross “On The Fear of Death” argues that people have become frightened of death because the way people deal and cope with death has changed. Death has become lonely and dehumanizing since more deaths occur in a hospital than in a person’s own home where they would have a choice on the way they would want to die. No one ever likes to talk about death or be around it when it’s occurring because it is seen as a taboo topic. Even though death is an inevitable fear has caused people to change the way they deal with death. Before people would be able to die in the comforts of their own home surrounded by loved ones, being seen as a natural course of life. This is no longer a common occurrence because fear has caused people to distance themselves and many no longer want to be around when death is occurring. Elisabeth explains the five grieving stages of death which include denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance which frames the cycle when coping with a loss. Instead of death becoming a taboo topic it should be an open subject that it is talked about because it allows people to be able to not fear it rather than people choosing to distance themselves from death.
Death is a natural fact of life which incurs grief and fear. Many are able to cope with the death of a loved one, some better than others will ever do. While on the other hand, others take it really hard and it generally tears them up on the inside and can negatively affect them for the rest of their life. Elisabeth’s model explains to us the process of the 5 stages of grief in which are denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. The first stage of grief is denial in which someone becomes numb and life doesn’t make sense. Then it’s the anger stage where everything seems endless and people are always asking themselves ‘why’. After a loss, bargaining may take as a form of truce in which people will question with ‘if only’, or the ‘what if’. Once people are done with bargaining the depression stage kicks us back into the present, which feels as if we are lost and vulnerable as if it’s going to last forever. Acceptance is the stage where we are accepting the reality that our loved one is physically gone and facing that this is the new reality we have acknowledged. Kubler-Ross claims, “What has changed is our way of coping and dealing with death and dying and our dying patients”. Times have changed and the ways people coped with death now, the grief stage was a common way to process death but nowadays people don’t seem to grief since they never want to be apart of someone dying. People don’t understand that the grief process is a very important step when trying to cope with a death of a loved one.
Death is hard to cope with especially now that many have distanced themselves from it. Facing death now has got to be one of the hardest challenges for a person. When losing someone who is really close to us is like losing a part of ourselves. Since people fear death so much they have pushed themselves away from family who were dying just so they wouldn’t have to face it head-on. Families find themselves avoiding death and talking about it because it has become easier for someone to come to terms with someone’s death in a better way. For example, I had a close friend who lost her father to cancer. Her dad was in and out of hospitals and the last time before he passed he stayed in the hospital. The last one week he was alive, she only visited him once because she couldn’t face the fact her dad was dying and didn’t have much time. She become distant from the family and avoided the hospital because she wanted to be able to have the good memory of her dad when he was living. Hospitals give us bad feelings, and no sense of being free or at peace. Hospitals are supposed to give us good news and not bad news like telling us someone we love has died. People often find themselves not a target to death as if they can be avoided. In the article “On the Fear of Death”, Elisabeth advocates that, “Death is still a fearful, frightening happening and the fear of death is a universal fear even if we think we have mastered it on many levels.”This meaning that it doesn’t matter who you are or what you do, death will follow you. She explains, that people believe they have mastered the fear of death, but with that said even though people don’t talk about it or say they don’t care it is a fear that we all still have deep down no matter the circumstances.
Better coping mechanisms were used in the past when death was seen as a natural part of life. People were free to die in there comfort of their own homes. People now have to seek counseling or help when experiencing a death of someone they loved. Nowadays when people are faced with such a loss, such as a death of a spouse or child, a handful of people most directly affected can suffer detrimental effects on their physical or mental health or even both. Many are now faced with clinical depression and anxiety during the overcome of the first year of their loss. In the past death was a part of life, an experience that helped people grow, mature in their way, but now with the increase of people dying in hospital beds versus their own home no one wants to be around anymore. Like I mentioned before, hospitals never bring good news to us. Elisabeth quotes, “One of the most important facts is that dying nowadays is more gruesome in many ways, namely, more lonely, mechanical, and dehumanized.” People believe now that they are more likely to die in an accident or by someone’s hands rather than of natural causes of life. People dying in hospital bed are always connected to tubes, being poked everywhere, connected to monitors, doctors coming in and out, nurses always asking questions and it’s never a peaceful way to go.
Due to death being seen negatively not only does it affect adults, but also the next generation. We want to protect our children from any kind of harm or troubles so we tend to keep secrets. Adults lie to them when it comes to the topics on death because we rather not see them suffer. We try to hide them away from the pain of losing someone they love. Kubler-Ross writes, ”This is in great contrast to a society in which death is viewed as taboo, discussion of it is regarded as morbid, and children are excluded with the presumption and pretext that it would ‘too much’ for them”. Children are thought to believe that they are too young sometimes and they don’t fully understand the thought of death itself. Children are probably too young to understand what’s going on. Adults believe by not telling their children the truth that they are protecting them, which can backfire to them once they grow up. As Kubler-Ross advocates, “Sooner or later the child will become aware of the changed family situation and, depending on the age and personality of the child, will have an unresolved grief and regard this incident as a frightening, mysterious, in any case very traumatic experience with untrustworthy grownups, which he has no way to cope with”. Although, we do everything in our power to protect our children from something like death, however it is better to talk to them about it, and let them grief like a normal adult would because in the long run the effects of the child not grieving can cause traumatic life experiences. Secrets can cause the child to not trust adults and can possibly affect future relationships.
Death should not be feared, but accepted as normal part of life. Having better coping mechanisms helps to deal with the death of a loved one. Talking about death openly to children and explaining to them that it is an inevitable part of life. It is okay to let children grief and feel when they lose someone they love rather than hiding them from the truth.Talking about death openly will allow death to be less fearsome and be accepted as a normal course of life.
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