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Differences Between Dying and Bereavement Across Lifespan - Essay Example

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Wesleyan University
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Dying refers to the process of loss of respiration, heartbeat and the irreversible cessation of all activities of brain activities as well as remaining in a vegetative state for a long time. An appropriate death should be able to make sense to an individual pattern of living as well as their values and should be free from suffering. Dying is associated with old age most of the time, but it can occur throughout the lifespan. Death can occur across the lifespan; infant and childhood deaths, death in adolescence, death in young adulthood, death in middle adulthood and death in late adulthood (Coolican et al., 1994).

Elizabeth Kubler-Ross stages of dying

According to Elizabeth before death an individual undergoes five major phases;

Denial and shock

Death at early adulthood is caused by a terminal disease which after diagnosis leads to denial by the affected. The denial is caused by the plans as well as the age of the affected. At early adulthood, people have plans of beginning families, and the diagnosis of a terminal disease causes unexpected shock (Parkes, 2013).


Dying at early age, individuals feel anger which is caused by their inability to accomplish their goals and internal conflict.

Bargaining, depression, and acceptance

At this stage, one feels guilt and meaninglessness of life. One can bargain for the possible course of action and options they have. Gradual realization of the real consequences of death leads to depression which is followed by acceptance in which an individual feels the need to be more self-reliance and moves away from self-awareness and contact with other people (Parkes, 2013).

On the other hand, bereavement refers to the state of loss that is caused by the death of someone we know. Feelings of bereavement occur when someone we are close to dies, bereavement starts by the recognition of a loss and continues until an individual accepts their loss (Kubler-Ross & Kessler, 2014).

Four components of grief in death in young adulthood

The four components of grief vary with individuals and the circumstances of the loss; the first component is the separation distress, the separation distress refers to some feelings; loss during young adulthood leads to the feeling of sadness, anxiety, anger, yearning, and loneliness. At young adulthood, individuals have many future plans with friends, and loved ones and death causes immense separation distress. Young adulthood death leads to traumatic distress due to disbelief and intrusions. The spike of emotions further leads to shock amongst the bereaved because the death was unexpected. After traumatic distress, the bereaved suffer guilt, remorse, and regrets of a future they could have had or the person the dead could have become. The final component of bereavement is the social withdrawal of the affected spouse and friends who shared a lot with the person who has died (Kubler-Ross & Kessler, 2014).



Coolican, M. B., Stark, J., Doka, K. J., & Corr, C. A. (1994). Education about death, dying, and bereavement in nursing programs. Nurse Educator, 19(6), 35-40.

Kubler-Ross, E., & Kessler, D. (2014). On grief and grieving: Finding the meaning of grief through the five stages of loss. Simon and Schuster.

Parkes, C. M. (2013). Elisabeth Kubler-Ross, On death and dying: a reappraisal. Mortality, 18(1), 94-97.


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