“Fear of Death” Through the Years Essay

In the story by Elisabeth Kubler-Ross, “On the Fear of Death” the author goes into detail about the advances made in medicine and technology over the decades; how we fear death and why we try to prolong the life of a loved one. In reading Dr. Kubler-Ross’ opinions and life experiences, I have come to agree with her opinion; “value of dying at home” rather than a traumatic and prolonged existence by machines. In her essay, Dr. Kubler-Ross explains how modern medicine has saved many lives over generations that may not survived had the science never been discovered.

People are living longer and children are surviving illnesses that decades ago would have killed them. However, On the other side of the coin, there is a price to pay for some of these cures. There are mental risks involved with these new medical miracles. She also talks about how we grieve or cause others to grieve. For instance when we explain to a child how someone died, with what we feel is an explanation they can understand and we want to make them feel better.

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We tell them that God was ready for that person to come home to live with him or that person was so good that God wanted them with him, in turn we can cause that child to have resentment for God. Dr. Kubler-Ross also gives insight to her experiences as a child, of being allowed to participate in the death and grieving process of a neighbor and how it was part of the countries culture. She also gives explanations into other cultures death and grieving processes . For example: Hebrews, American Natives, Egyptians just to name a few.

Dr. Kubler-Ross states “We would think that our great emancipation, our knowledge of science and of man, has given us better ways and means to prepare ourselves and our families for this inevitable happening. Instead the days are gone when a man was allowed to die in peace and dignity in his own home. ” She believes the more advances we make in science, the more we fear death. Dr. Kubler-Ross explains that with all the technology, death to the elderly is for at most a lonely, impersonal mechanical turmoil.

In our effort to save a loved one, we call 911 and wait for help. For the patient this will just prolong the end and perhaps not help at all. Dr. Kubler-Ross gives us insight to the patient’s view of what is happening. The lights, sirens, strangers, needles, x- rays, blood tests etc. When just letting them stay where they are comfortable and loved and safe, they could just go to sleep in peace with the help of medication so they feel no pain. It would be more humane to the patient. Dr. Kubler-Ross raised the question: “Are we becoming less than human or more human? ” Through the centuries the patients’ needs have not changed only our ability to gratify them. I agree that a severely ill person still needs to be treated like a person whose rights to how they want to die is honored. What the patient wants is most important. I am glad that Dr. Kubler-Ross helped in hospice program come to be. I have experienced both types of death, the rush to a hospital and watching the person be scared and just want to go home, but not being allowed that option.

Years later giving that right to the spouse of that person and watch them go in peace after being reassured that the family will be ok. I am going through the same thing at this time with my own father in hospice. No matter how much I don’t like seeing this happen, I can’t be selfish; I have to honor his wishes. So in closing I agree with Dr. Kubler- Ross completely on this issue. I believe hospice is the best if there is no other hope for the patient.