A handbook of interventions and supportive counselling methods for facilitating a "good" death

Thumbnail Image
Morrell, Linda
University of Lethbridge. Faculty of Education
Journal Title
Journal ISSN
Volume Title
Lethbridge, Alta. : University of Lethbridge, Faculty of Education, 2008
Over the years, medical science has taken over the art of dying, robbing some individuals and their families of experiencing a good death. This paper is a review of the literature addressing the needs of terminally ill patients and their families. One question I tried to answer is what facilitates “good” pre- and post-death experiences? I found that open communication of personal wishes and relevant information is key. I also found that what constitutes a “good” death varies; physicians tend to focus on the physical components of the illness, whereas patients, their families, and other non-physician caregivers focus on the psychosocial and spiritual aspects of dying. Many writers have observed that defining quality of life is difficult, as it is subjective and changes with time. Some factors that have been identified as working against experiencing a good death are fatigue, the sense of being a burden, and depression. These states are so common and pervasive that some (fully competent) terminally ill patients argue that they should have the right to end their suffering prematurely if they desire. At the same time, spiritual factors may have an important positive impact on existential suffering, quality of life, coping strategies, and the bereavement process. There is no consensus among researchers on the process of grief, exactly how long the grieving period “should” last, or what constitutes “normal” grief versus “complicated” grief. Some have argued that the lack of standardized definitions is highly problematic in that it may lead some clinicians to misdiagnose patients and prescribe unnecessary medications. It appears that it is impossible to apply a “one size fits all” approach to the grief process, due to varying individual, social, and cultural factors. The therapy approaches presented in this paper help to enhance quality of life, manage anxiety, reclaim some control, and facilitate the bereavement process.
x, 164 leaves ; 28 cm. --
Campus Alberta Applied Psychology , Critically ill -- Counseling of , Critically ill -- Psychology , Death -- Psychological aspects , Terminally ill -- Counseling of , Terminally ill -- Psychology , Bereavement -- Psychological aspects , Client-centered psychotherapy