Unit 1: Issues in Dying and Death
‘Going to Switzerland’ for Assisted Suicide Is Getting So Popular It’s Become a Euphemism, Laura Bliss, The Atlantic, 2014
As assisted suicide is not legal in most countries, many individuals are journeying to Switzerland to be “assisted” with dying using the services of Dignitas.
Offering a Choice to the Terminally Ill, The Editorial Board, The New York Times, 2015
Physician assisted suicide (PAS) is legal in five states in the United States, as of 2016, whereby a physician can write a prescription for a lethal dosage so that an individual with a terminal illness can take her/his own life.
Grief in the Age of Facebook, Elizabeth Stone, The Chronicle Review, 2010
Technology gives new ways to express grief following a death. Facebook allows for a sharing of grief with others, as discussed in this manuscript.
Household Pet Euthanasia and Companion Animal Last Rites, George E. Dickinson, Phi Kappa Phi Forum, 2014
Pets have a special place and status in the eyes of their owners. The death of a pet can be very traumatic for the owner(s). This article explores the dilemma of whether or not to euthanize a companion animal.
Diversity in Death: Body Disposition and Memorialization, George E. Dickinson, Illness, Crisis & Loss, 2012
Though earth burial has traditionally been the way of disposing of dead human remains in the United States, cremation is rapidly becoming the disposal choice. This article explores these options and ways of memorializing the dead.
Bring Back the Autopsy, Sandeep Jauhar, The New York Times, 2016
Autopsies are not as frequently done today as in the past. Many physicians today feel that the autopsy is no longer a very useful procedure, yet the author argues just the opposite.
When Dying Alone in Prison Is Too Harsh a Sentence, Rachael Bedard, The New York Times, 2015
The author argues that to die in a prison setting is not acceptable and that such an individual should be allowed to die among family and friends.
Unit 2: Dying and Death across the Life Cycle
Patients Must Initiate End-of-Life Conversations, Anne Elizabeth Denny, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, 2015
The author states that most physicians are not well trained to have conversations about end-of-life health care choices. The importance of such is emphasized in this article.
Good Mourning, George E. Dickinson, College of Charleston Magazine, 2011
The article discusses the role of the veterinarian in the death of a pet and also the seriousness that should be given by everyone to the death of a child’s companion animal.
Drawing Portraits of Dying People in Hospice Taught This Artist about Living, Tara Bahrampour, The Washington Post, 2016
An artist gains appreciation of the dying process by drawing portraits of persons enrolled in a hospice program. Such an experience has taught the author to slow down and take time to “smell the roses.”
Unit 3: The Dying Process
Good Vibrations, Rachael Carnes, Eugene Weekly, 2015
The author shows the importance of music as a therapeutic way of addressing issues, whether it be a person with a terminal illness or someone with another situation.
Being Discharged from Hospice Alive: The Lived Experience of Patients and Families, Rebeka Watson Campbell, Journal of Palliative Medicine, 2015
An exploration of the experiences of adults discharged from hospice. The author concludes that by understanding the experience, health care providers may be helped to aid the needs of the hospice population.
A New Vision for Dreams of the Dying, Jan Hoffman, The New York Times, 2016
Dreams of the dying are analyzed. Such dreams differ from NDEs, as these individuals are on a journey towards death, not persons who just missed death as is true of NDEs.
The Impact of Faith Beliefs on Perceptions of End-of-Life Care and Decision Making among African American Church Members, Jerry Johnson et al., Journal of Palliative Medicine, 2016
Though a study of focus groups in African American churches, the authors found that faith beliefs can support discussions about palliative care and hospice.
Unit 4: Ethical Issues of Death and Dying
Ethics and Life’s Ending: An Exchange, Robert D. Orr and Gilbert Meilaender, First Things, 2004
This article provides a point-counterpoint discussion of the quality of life arguments for passive euthanasia and the right to die. Knowledge from both points of view challenge the student who is attempting to formulate an understanding of the complex issues surrounding this controversy.
Apostolate of Death, Aaron Kheriaty, First Things, 2015
The article discusses the religious aspects of physician-assisted suicide. It reflects on the legalization of physician-assisted suicide in some U.S. states. It cites Brittany Maynard, an American woman with terminal brain cancer who decided to end her own life through physician-assisted suicide on November 1, 2014.
As We Lie Dying, Gerald Coleman and Margaret R. McLean, Commonweal, 2014
The article discusses the Physician Orders for Life Sustaining Treatment (POLST), a medical protocol for patients under end-of-life care that provides opportunity to select treatment options, and for physicians and caregivers to follow these options. Some U.S. Catholic bishops criticized the program as it constitutes a voluntary form of euthanasia, but POLST defenders argue that a documented order is necessary to carry out the treatment wishes of dying patients to protect their dignity and choice.
Dying Dutch: Euthanasia Spreads Across Europe, Winston Ross, Newsweek, 2015
The article takes a look at the legal practice of euthanasia in the Netherlands. It notes that some 4,829 people opted for doctor-assisted euthanasia in the Netherlands in 2013. It cites that it is lawful for Dutch people to choose euthanasia if they can convince two doctors that they are no longer able to endure unbearable suffering. The article names other countries that are moving towards legal euthanasia including Canada, Belgium, and Switzerland.
Dutch Pediatricians Want to Euthanize Children, Wesley J. Smith, National Review, 2015
The article reports the move by the Dutch Pediatricians Association in mid-2015 to urge the elimination of the age limit in the implementation of the euthanasia law on children in the Netherlands, particularly to terminally ill children.
At the Bottom of the Slippery Slope, Wesley J. Smith, The Weekly Standard, 2011
Smith argues that once society accepts euthanasia/organ harvesting, we will soon see agitation to pay seriously disabled or dying people for their organs, a policy that Kevorkian advocated.
How Doctors Die, Ken Murray, The Saturday Evening Post, 2013
The article examines the relatively low amount of medical care that many doctors seek upon being diagnosed with terminal illnesses. According to the author, this is due to doctors' knowledge of the limits of medical treatment and the desire to pass away under their own terms. In addition, he notes that many patients and family members have unrealistic expectations of medical treatments such as CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) while doctors prefer to maintain certain quality of life levels.
Unit 5: Funerals
The Contemporary American Funeral: Meeting the Needs of the Bereaved, Michael R. Leming and George E. Dickinson, Understanding Dying, Death, and Bereavement, 2016
This article provides an overview of the present practice of funeralization in American society, including the traditional and alternative funeral arrangements. The functions of funerals relative to the sociological, psychological, and theological needs of adults and children are also discussed.
Good Mourning, Katie Bahr, U.S. Catholic, 2015
The article discusses issues concerning mourning and funeral practices of Catholics in the U.S. Topics covered include data from the National Funeral Directors Association which reveals that funerals have become shorter and less religious, parts of the Order of Christian Funerals and reasons not to skip the ceremonial steps in funeral practices.
The Viewing, Brian Doyle, U.S. Catholic, 2015
VA personal narrative is presented which explores the author's experience in attending a funeral viewing.
Green Burials Reflect Care for Earth, Family Finances, Lauren Markoe, Christian Century, 2014
The article discusses the increasing popularity of green burial in the U.S. Topics discussed include view that green burial reflects a commitment to both faith and the environment, establishment of the nonprofit group Green Burial Council by former Jesuit lay minister Joe Sehee, and Diocese of Albany's setting aside of a wildflower-filled meadow for a green burial. Also highlighted are some aspects of green burial including no embalming and use of wood or other natural materials for the casket.
A Proper Send-Off to the Great Beyond, George C. Clarke, USA Today, 2014
The article provides advice on taking care of funeral arrangements for loved ones that have passed away. Topics mentioned include an overview of the Funeral Law enforced by the Federal Trade Commission which outlines required disclosures and actions of funeral providers, three categories of funeral expenses namely professional services, merchandise, and cash advances, and factors determining casket prices.
17 Behind-the-Scenes Secrets of Funeral Directors, Christine Colby, Mental Floss, 2016
Practitioners of the “dismal trade”—whether known as funeral directors, morticians, or undertakers—likely have a more challenging day at the office than most people. Despite the fact that everyone will almost certainly need their services at some point in their lives, the specifics of their job duties often remain shrouded in mystery. After interviewing several funeral directors to learn some little-known facts about the profession and some of what goes on "back stage." Some of the topics covered in this article include what happens behind the doors of the embalming room, the real reason you might want to think twice about that “protective” casket, some reflective thoughts about the logistics of "green burials," to the type of car a funeral director should drive.
10 Burdens Funeral Directors Carry and 10 Ways Funeral Directors Cope, Caleb Wilde, Confessions of a Funeral Director, 2012
The first of two articles gives a real inside look at the life of a "real life" funeral director and provides an understanding for outsiders as to the disadvantages being a professional funeral director. The second article gives ten coping methods employed by funeral directors to cope with professional stresses. The first five are negative or maladaptive techniques and the last five are positive coping strategies. One or more of these positive methods MUST be used if a person is to stay in this profession AND maintain a healthy personal and family life.
I’m Paid to Mourn at Funerals (And It's a Growing Industry), Evan V. Symon, CRACKED, 2016
This article discusses the new occupation of professionals at funerals. It talks about some of the advantages and disadvantages of the occupation and why some families might want to hire mourners.
10 Amazing Things Your Ashes Can Do After You Die, Amanda Green, Mental Floss, 2013
More and more families are opting for cremation over earth burial. In the western part of the United States the majority of funerals involve cremation. This article discusses ten options available to families regarding the disposition of cremated remains.
Memorial Videos Give Lasting Farewell, Jeff Strickler, Minneapolis Star and Tribune, 2011
Now you can speak at your own funeral and tell your mourners how you really feel.
Speaking from Beyond the Grave; High-tech Headstones Use QR Codes to Link to Photos and Videos of the Dearly Departed, Jeff Strickler, Minneapolis Star and Tribune, 2012
With high-tech tombstones and QR codes, the deceased can talk back to those who visit their graves.
Unit 6: Bereavement
The Grieving Process, Michael R. Leming and George E. Dickinson, Understanding Dying, Death, and Bereavement, 2016
This article discusses the seven basic coping strategies related to the bereavement process (shock and denial, disorganization, volatile emotions, guilt, loss and loneliness, relief, and reestablishment) and the four tasks of bereavement (accepting the reality of the loss, experiencing the pain of grief, adjusting to an environment in which the deceased is missing, and the withdrawing of emotional energy and reinvesting it in other relationships).
Disenfranchised Grief, Kenneth J. Doka, Disenfranchised Grief: Recognizing Hidden Sorrow, Lexington Books, 1989
Doka discusses the unique situation of bereaved survivors whose loss is not, or cannot be, openly acknowledged, publicly mourned, or socially supported.
Challenging the Paradigm: New Understandings of Grief, Kenneth J. Doka, Centre for Grief Education, 2007
Kenneth Doka discusses five significant ways in which earlier understandings of or paradigms of grief have been challenged. He also discusses three current challenges to the field of thanatology and two others that are likely to occur in the not-too-distant future.
Educators Tend to Overlook Student Grief, Experts Say, Evie Blad, Education Week, 2015
The article covers studies by the Coalition to Support Grieving Students, a group of education organizations, which suggest that many schools fail to provide sufficient support to grieving students. Information is provided on the coalition's website, grievingstudents.org, which offers resources such as professional development models, lesson plans, and suggestions on teacher collaboration.
Children at the Grave, Melissa Florer-Bixler, Christian Century, 2016
The article discusses the role of funerals in children's experience of death. Topics include the communal role of funerals in Christian life, the role of grief in the psychology of children, and the impacts of the death of family members on children. The author's experiences as a minister conducting funerals and attending a school career day are noted.
Programs Help Chaplains Handle Their Grief, Adelle M. Banks, Christian Century, 2014
The article reports the various programs launched in the U.S. as of March 2014 to help chaplains who comforted grieving military families in handling their grief. It cites as example the memorial ceremony held by the National Association of Evangelicals Chaplains Commission in January 2014 to allow chaplains a chance to grieve themselves. The opinion of Association of Professional Chaplains president Valerie Storms on the developments is also cited.
Memorial Hashtags and Selfies at Funerals: How We Mourn in the Digital Age, Laurie Penny, New Statesman, 2014
The article looks at social aspects of death, grief, and mourning as of 2014, focusing on the use of Internet and social media. The author expresses disagreement with those who have criticized the use of social media to express condolences or otherwise respond to a death, saying that it is death that is outrageous, not how anyone reacts to it, and that the most important thing is merely to be kind to those in mourning. The death of journalist and socialite Peaches Geldof is cited.
Parting Is Such Tweet Sorrow, Sabrina Bachai and Elijah Wolfson, Newsweek, 2014
The article focuses on the mourning carried out publicly through online resources, particularly social media, and the author's suggestion that it can be a positive part of the coping and healing process. Subjects discussed include the controversy such practice has aroused as of January 2014, use of social media profiles like Facebook pages as memorials, and analysis from psychiatry professor Tamara McClintock Greenberg.