Dying is a complex psychological experience. It’s very difficult to think about losing a person you care about. The dying person’s sense of loss is even greater; he faces losing not one special person, but everyone he cares about. He also feels the loss of opportunity, favorite activities, familiar places, and valued possessions. The thoughts and feelings of dying people probably differ widely. For most people, the thought of death and dying can be very frightening as they think of:
Years ago, Dr. Elisabeth Kubler-Ross outlined five emotions many people go through after learning they will die. They are:
A dying person might not experience all these emotions, might combine some, or might move in and out of them. When someone denies his eventual death, allow him time to experience the different emotions. Let her know, through your actions and words, that you’re willing to talk with her about her illness. Some people may remain in the denial stage until death, as that may be their way of coping. They may also, in some way, be trying to protect you by acting as if everything is fine. By showing that he can be open with you, you’ll give him permission to talk when he’s ready.
For more information see:
Adapted with permission from GriefWorks, Sam Quick, Professor Emeritus, Human Development and Family Relations Specialist, Kentucky Cooperative Extension Service.