Understanding Death

It can be difficult to come to terms with the impending death of a loved one. Aside from having feelings of loss, many of us are scared for our loved one. Since we are all living, we do not know what it feels like to die. We don’t know what to expect. Will it be painful for them? Will they be scared? What will the doctors and healthcare professionals do to ease the suffering?

These are all good questions. Important questions.

The New York Times recently published a piece written by Dr. Sara Manning Peskin called “The Symptoms of Dying.” The article discusses the common symptoms of death. It states that while we all die of different things, at different ages, there are some universal symptoms. By understanding these symptoms – that may happen all at once, or quietly – we might feel a little bit better about what’s happening to the person we love.

Peskin mentions that many of the symptoms of death sound worse than they really are, or the pain is managed by doctors and palliative care specialists.

In another article from the UK paper the Independant titled, “Dying is a ‘happier’ experience than most people imagine, say scientists,” the writer shares some insights from the terminally ill. While many of us fear death, researchers from the University of North Carolina have found that for some, it isn’t as lonely and scary as we’re led to believe.

The researchers analyzed blog posts written by terminally ill patients and the last words of death row inmates and found their words to be much more positive than one might expect. Instead of expressing fear, depression, anger, and loneliness, many expressed gratitude, love, and connection.

The same researchers then asked healthy people to imagine they had a month to live and to share their thoughts. Not surprisingly the words from the healthy group were much more negative than those of the terminally ill. Our perception of death is much sadder and scarier when it is not our actual reality, but an imaged one.

In the end, when a loved one is dying it’s important to be there for them. Surround them with love and support so that when their time is up, they will perhaps feel a little bit better about it.

Chapel Ridge Funeral Home and Cremation Centre in Markham has information for families and loved ones of the terminally ill.

Read: Signs of an Approaching Death