10: Death and Dying

Learning Objectives: Death and Dying

  • Define death
  • Describe what characterizes physical and social death
  • Compare the leading causes of death in the United States with those of developing countries
  • Explain where people die
  • Describe how attitudes about death and death anxiety change as people age
  • Explain the philosophy and practice of palliative care
  • Describe the roles of hospice and family caregivers
  • Explain the different types of advanced directives
  • Describe cultural differences in end of life decisions
  • Explain the different types of euthanasia and their controversies
  • Describe funeral rituals in different religions
  • Differentiate among grief, bereavement, and mourning
  • List and describe the stages of loss based on Kübler-Ross’s model and describe the criticisms of the model
  • Explain the dual-process model of grief
  • Identify the impact of losing a child and parent
  • Identify the four tasks of mourning
  • Explain the importance of support groups for those in grief

We have now reached the end of the lifespan. While it is true that death occurs more commonly at the later stages of age, death can occur at any point in the life cycle. Death is a deeply personal experience evoking many different reactions, emotions, and perceptions. Children and young adults in their prime of life may perceive death differently from adults dealing with chronic illness or the increasing frequency of the death of family and friends. If asked, most people envision their death as quick and peaceful. However, except for a handful of illnesses in which death does often quickly follow diagnosis, or in the case of accidents or trauma, most deaths come after a lengthy period of chronic illness or frailty (Institute of Medicine (IOM), 2015). While modern medicine and better living conditions have led to a rise in life expectancy around the world, death will still be the inevitable final chapter of our lives.


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Lifespan Development - A Psychological Perspective by Martha Lally and Suzanne Valentine-French is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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