Monday, November 2, 2020

Is Death Often More Pleasant Than We Imagine? (Research, Good Death Video 2:49)

Many people, even some who work in healthcare, believe that death is always something to dread. Are they right? Is death as bad as many people imagine it will be? Two near-death research studies compared the affective experience of people facing imminent death with that of people imagining imminent death. Interesting results of these studies are the following:

The first study revealed that blog posts of near-death patients with cancer and sclerosis were more positive and less negative than the simulated blog posts of non-patients. In addition, the patients' blog posts became more positive as death neared.

The second study revealed that the last words of death-row inmates were more positive and less negative than the simulated last words of non-inmates and that these last words were less negative than poetry written by death-row inmates. Clearly, these results suggest that the experience of dying, even because of terminal illness or execution, may be more pleasant than one imagines.

How can medical professionals improve the good death experience? What can a good death look like? At age 78, John Hawkins, a New York psychotherapist, was near death from lung disease and seemingly at peace. Hoping to inspire a conversation about facing death, he let photographer Joshua Bright take pictures of his last days on Earth at home in hospice care. John Hawkins had a good death.
Frances Shani Parker, Author
Becoming Dead Right: A Hospice Volunteer in Urban Nursing Homes is available in paperback and e-book editions in America and other countries at online and offline booksellers.
Frances Shani Parker's Website

Good Death Research, Death Blog Posts, Death-Row Inmates’ Deaths, John Hawkins, Joshua Bright, Susan Spencer CBS Report