How To Deal With Death and Dying As You Age

How To Deal With Death and Dying As You Age

1. Denial

The initial stage of grief is considered a denial, wherein a person struggles or refuses to comprehend that your loved one is dying. They may go to great lengths to ignore the reality of the situation or even discuss it with their loved ones or doctors. The denial phase of grief is often an immediate reaction, and a person begins to move through it once they have had time to process the information.

2. Anger

anger
How To Deal With Death and Dying As You Age

When a person reaches the anger stage, they may experience and express these feelings inwardly, outwardly, or both. They may be angry because they feel they aren’t ready to die or that they don’t “deserve” it.

They may process these angry feelings inwardly and prefer to avoid interacting with others. A person may also take their anger out on the people around them including friends, family, and even doctors and nurses. 

Related: Dead For 3 Years and No One Notices! – Lessons From The Joyce Vincent Story

3. Bargaining

Eventually, most people move into a stage of bargaining. If they are religious, a person may ask their higher power to save their life. They may pray and promise “to be good” or “better” if only God will spare them. 

Conversations with others during the bargaining stage of grief may feature a lot of statements that start with “If only…” These comments may be directed at what a person wishes they could undo about the past (“If only I hadn’t started smoking…”) or focus on the things they are realizing they will miss out on (“If only I could live to see my grandchildren grow up…”).

4. Depression

Most people experience depression at some point in the dying and grieving process, though it may take different forms.

When someone is dealing with the death of a loved one, a period of mourning is an expected reaction to the loss. Alternatively, when a person is in the process of dying themselves, the mourning is preemptive.

Anticipatory grief can involve more than just the loss of their life; as death gets closer and they become more dependent on others, a person may mourn the loss of their independence and their identity.

Related: The #1 Cause of Chronic Depression and How You Can Turn It Off 

5. Acceptance

How To Deal With Death and Dying As You Age
How To Deal With Death and Dying As You Age

The final stage of grief is acceptance. While it’s usually described as a person being “at peace” with death, that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s an easy stage to be in and that a person will feel relieved or unafraid once they reach it.

In fact, it’s not uncommon for someone in the last stage of grief to feel nothing at all, and the numbness may help people cope with death.

It can take a long time to reach a stage of acceptance and reaching acceptance doesn’t mean that a person won’t return to a previous stage if their situation changes. 

Having a support network of family and friends at each stage of the grieving process can provide guidance and comfort, but it’s also not uncommon to seek professional help when facing a loss. 

People commonly turn to grief counseling, support groups, and clergy to help them process and cope with their grief. 

Related: The Five Stages Of Grief: Exploring The Kübler-Ross Model

Social Changes

Another emotional aspect of dying is the concept of “social death,” which can start long before a person experiences any physical signs of imminent death.

When someone knows they are likely to die within a specific timeframe, such as after receiving a terminal cancer diagnosis, it inevitably affects their social life.

In some cases, a person withdraws from others. If they are very ill, they may be forced to leave work or school and may lose social connections as a result. They may also isolate themselves from friends and family as they try to “come to terms” with their imminent death and take time to reflect on their life.

Related: A Day Before Her Death, This 27Yr Old Woman Wrote A Letter, Which Will Change Your Life Forever

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Mark Stibich, PhD FIDSA

Dr. Mark Stibich is a founder and Chief Scientific Officer for Xenex Healthcare Services, a company that uses a patented pulsed xenon disinfection system to make patient care areas safer by reducing the microbial contamination (from "superbugs" such as MRSA, VRE and C. diff.). Xenex has been featured in Forbes, CNN and other media outlets as well as in peer-reviewed scientific publications. Dr. Stibich specializes in creating efficient solutions for public health problems. He received his doctoral training from the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health and has been involved in multiple international research and intervention projects. He is an inventor on over 80 granted patents and a principal investigator on an NIH grant. Specialties: infection control, protocol design, UV disinfection, area disinfection, disinfection of public spaces, public health, business developmentView Author posts