On the Fear of Death
Elisabeth Kubler-Ross has penned an essay entitled “On the Fear of Death” where she describes how death itself has not changed since time immemorial. While there may have been changes throughout the years in the aspects of dying, the process of grieving for the people who lost a beloved and the perception of dying amongst the terminally ill and their family including children as well as the fear of death remain constant. Kubler-Ross has illustrated by her examples how medical advances and modernization of culture have changed the face of grieving. Death remains an inevitable event; this is the reason why it continues to frighten people and shake their life when they experience it.
Kubler-Ross provides an example of how dying in an “old-fashioned” manner has led to better grieving process amongst the family members and has allowed the dying person to accept his remaining days easier. The father of my friend has died many years ago because of lung cancer. The memory of my friend’s frustration is still vivid. At that period, his father kept insisting on a stick or two (or maybe more) of cigarettes everyday despite his terminal condition.
The essay of Kubler-Ross about death and dying has made me understand my friend’s father. He knew that he was dying and has come to accept that his days were numbered. Rather than continue to fight for his life by doing things unfamiliar and uncomfortable to him, he has chosen to settle on the routine he favored. After all, no chemotherapy could cure his cancer. According to Kubler-Ross, the dying person should be given a chance to decide how to spend the final days of his life. Death happens to all, even to those who think they are invincible and 101% healthy. Kubler-Ross states that the acceptance of death starts by accepting the fact that it will eventually occur, and no one is exempted from dying. When we finally come to accept this fact, we start to live our life to the fullest.
- Kubler-Ross, E. (2011). On the fear of death. In L. Peterson, J., Brereton, J., Bizup, A., Fernald, & M. Goldthwaite (Eds.), The Norton Reader (13th ed.). New York, NY: W. W. Norton & Company.