DEATH AND DYING
Just as being born is a natural process, dying is also a natural process. Death is
inevitable no matter how we may want to prolong life. Many people avoid the
discussion of death because it is so anxiety-provoking a subject. The subject reminds
us of our human weaknesses despite all technological advances. Death is the last
human experience, a fact which makes it difficult to help those who are terminally ill. As
a medical specialist, you will be faced frequently with the reality of another person's
death. This experience can be very painful and stressful. It is only natural for fears of
death and personal concerns to intensify whenever you are in contact with someone
who is dying.
REACTIONS OF HEALTH CARE PERSONNEL TOWARD TERMINALLY ILL
OR INJURED PATIENTS
To work effectively with a dying patient, you must recognize and understand the
individual's needs, feelings, tension, and discomfort. Coming to terms with yourself will
be your greatest asset.
a. Denial. Some personnel may tend to deny the reality of death or try to avoid
patients who are terminally ill. Death is seen as a failure because it cannot be
prevented. Some personnel may even "tune out" or "tune off" terminally ill patients by
maintaining an objective, professional approach.
b. Common Inappropriate Actions/Responses to Terminally Ill Patients
Who Wish to Talk about Death. The medical specialist should avoid the following
Reassurance. "Everything will be all right."
Denial. "You're not going to die."
Fatalism. "We all have to die sometime."
Changing the subject. "Let's think of something else to talk about."
c. Appropriate Actions/Responses to Terminally Ill Patients.
Gentle discussion. Be aware of how you talk to the patient.