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Chapter 20 : Facing death

How do you think you will psychologically handle facing your own death?

In facing one's own death, psychologist Kübler-Ross proposed five emotional stages in relationship that individuals experience: denial and isolation, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance (Santrock, 2019, p. 614-615). Though these five stages have not necessarily been proven to be true to all deaths, and are highly dependent on one's environment and situation, they are still used as reference points for potential reactions to death (Santrock, 2019, p. 615). Two other factors that come into play often are one's perceived control regarding one's death, and denial (Santrock, 2019). Studies show that perceived control can have incredibly positive effects on the individual, and can increase longevity (Santrock, 2019). Denial can also have positive effects, maintaining day to day satisfaction with life. But it is considered potentially harmful to stay in denial for too long (Santrock, 2019).

Death is a mysterious event. I honestly try not to think about my death too often. I understand that someday it will come. When I think of death, my mind and body spiral into deep grief. I try to prepare myself. I do not think that this is actually useful.

I think that as the textbook suggests, my age and circumstances of death with greatly influence how I react. If I die suddenly and unexpectedly, I will clearly not have the time to experience any of Kübler-Ross' proposed reactions.

I had a friend pass away. He came to visit me often in my dreams. Mostly we would just hang out, but sometimes we would talk about death. Sometimes I would cry, and sometimes I would get angry. He would always remain calm. When we finally said goodbye, and I understood that he was no longer going to visit me, I asked him how I was going to live without him. He took me in his arms and promised me that he would be waiting for me when I passed away. I remember a deep sense of calm that lasted weeks after this dream. I like to believe that he will in fact be waiting for me, and though I will be leaving this life, I will also be joining him somewhere new and wonderful.


Santrock, J. W. (2019). Lifespan development (17th ed.). New York: McGraw-Hill.


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