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Nyatanga BLondon: Quay Books; 2008

Death as the final phase of development

02 October 2019
Volume 24 · Issue 10

This month's column examines the possibility of death and its impact on health professionals as they care for dying patients, who are in their final phase of life. There is evidence that death brings with it a finality to life as we know it. Death equates to our non-existence, and has emotional implications for those close to us.

Eric Erikson's (1902–1994) perspective of contemporary palliative care includes useful discussions on death. Erikson's research proposed the premise that we go through eight developmental phases, with death being the final one. Each developmental phase is unique and brings with it both psychological and physical growth. Here, psychological growth should be considered to include emotional, social, intellectual and spiritual aspects. It results from individuals experiencing life and learning from both good and bad to shape the next phase. However, being the finite phase, death is often viewed differently, with many people feeling indifferent towards how to approach and negotiate this life-ending phase.

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