[ANSWERED 2023] How often do you engage with or witness death in your work? How has this experience or the lack of it shaped your view of death?

Written By: Dan Palmer, RN

How often do you engage with or witness death in your work? How has this experience or the lack of it shaped your view of death?

How often do you engage with or witness death in your work? How has this experience or the lack of it shaped your view of death?

How often do you engage with or witness death in your work? How has this experience or the lack of it shaped your view of death? Has it gotten easier or harder for you to accept the fact of death? As you explain, include your clinical specialty.

Expert Answer and Explanation

Reflection on Clinical Experience of Death

I have had the opportunity of working with patients in labor and delivery unit, and during my practice within this unit, I witness the death of patients. Some patients died during delivery, and whenever I witnessed death of a patient, I would feel sad. The first time I witnessed a patient of a mother and her child, I was shocked. The incident was emotionally overwhelming, and I was angry that perhaps the hospital could have done enough to prevent the deaths (Robson & Williams, 2017). With time, however, I began accepting the death of patients as a reality for anyone working in the labor unit.

This personal experience has shaped my views concerning death and dying. I have learned from such encounters that anyone can die, and when people die, they overcome pain and suffering. From my experience, still, I learned that the thought of dying invokes feelings such as fear and denial, and when one dies, those close to them experience sadness and anger. Furthermore, the experience of seeing patients die has taught me that one can die in any point in their life including during toddlerhood, and that appropriate clinical interventions can help reduce the risk of death (Robson & Williams, 2017).

While I would experience difficult coping with death during my formative years of practice, I have experienced changes in terms of how I see death. Currently, I see death as part of the human experience because death is a natural process in which a person loses their physical body. Because I have worked with patients from diverse backgrounds, I have noted that death has some form of spiritual and cultural significance, and that culture and spirituality or religious beliefs can affect how individuals cope with death (Phan et al., 2021).

 References

Phan, H. P., Ngu, B. H., Chen, S. C., Wu, L., Shih, J. H., & Shi, S. Y. (2021). Life, death, and spirituality: A conceptual analysis for educational research development. Heliyon7(5), e06971. Doi: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.heliyon.2021.e06971.

Robson, K., & Williams, C. M. (2017). Dealing with the death of a long term patient; what is the impact and how do podiatrists cope?. Journal of foot and ankle research10, 36. Doi: https://doi.org/10.1186/s13047-017-0219-0.

Alternative Expert Answer and Explanation

Although patients come to hospitals for treatment expecting to recover from their illnesses, some clinical cases end with patients’ death. For providers, witnessing patients dying can be a difficult experience especially if they have established an emotional connection with the patients. During my practice as a Medsurg Nurse, I have witnessed the death of patients, and whenever I experienced a patient dying, it affected me emotionally (Robson & Williams, 2017).

I would react with regret, blaming myself for not doing enough to prevent death. Although the death of patients still hurts, I feel I am emotionally prepared to deal with such an experience, more than I was when I first encountered the first incident.

As a nursing professional, experiencing the loss of lives has shaped my perspective on health, illness, and death. One thing that I have learned particularly given my previous with death is that it can be difficult to stop death when it comes, and anyone working with the patient may watch helplessly as the patient dies.

Previously, I experienced tension and anxiety every time I saw a patient dying, and I would have nightmares (Sartor, das Mercês, & Torrealba, 2021). Based on what I have experienced, I have become more open in terms of how I view death. Specifically, I consider it a normal human experience, and whenever it occurs, it serves as a reminder that it is an experience that awaits everyone including me.

My personal experiences concerning the loss of patients’ lives have played a significant role in defining my perspectives on life. It is easier for me to accept death than it was previously because seeing a patient dying reminds me of my mortality as a person. It also reminds me of the need to treat everyone with respect, and dignity irrespective of their health status. Guided by this experience, therefore, I would be more respectful in terms of how I treat patients.

References

Robson, K., & Williams, C. M. (2017). Dealing with the death of a long term patient; what is the impact and how do podiatrists cope?. Journal of foot and ankle research10, 36. Doi: https://doi.org/10.1186/s13047-017-0219-0.

Sartor, S. F., das Mercês, N. N. A., & Torrealba, M. N. R. (2021). Death in the Hospital: The Witnessing of the Patient with Cancer. Indian journal of palliative care27(4), 538–543. https://doi.org/10.25259/IJPC_119_21.

According to your worldview, what value does a human person have? How does your position affect your stance on controversial bioethical issues

Reflect on the analysis of the sin of suicide and, thus, euthanasia from the topic readings. Do you agree? Why or why not? Refer to the lecture and topic readings in your response.

Expert Answer and Explanation

Reflection on Christian View on Euthanasia

The topic readings provide insight into the subject of the sin of suicide. From the perspective of the Christian faith, the penalty for sin is death, and death came upon humans because of their inequity or shortfall. Death, according to this faith however, is spiritually significant, and people can enjoy the fruits of living a righteous life even when they die (Goligher et al., 2017). If one lives a righteous life here on earth, they will enjoy eternal life.

From the Christian worldview or biblical teachings, one can understand the meaning of life, sin and suicide or assisted death. The Christian faith views death as a natural process and in discussions involving death, the issue of good death arises. According to this faith, a good death is one that is not hastened through individual or physician intervention but one that is natural.

The bible has various passages which support the Christian’s perspective on the issue of euthanasia. According to the biblical teachings, God determines the time people can live on earth, and euthanizing someone to prevent them from suffering goes against God’s teachings about life (Goligher et al., 2017). This is particularly noticeable in Hebrew 9:27 which maintain that God has pre-planned everyone’s life.

Personally, I support the views that the Christian faith presents concerning the issue of assisted suicide. From personal experience, I have seen the terminally ill recover, and I believe that God can still intervene to heal the sick because of God’s power over nature. The bible provides numerous accounts of the sick getting healed through prayers and faith. The human can use their God-given knowledge and wisdom to find solutions that can give rather than terminate life (Choudry, Latif, & Warburton, 2018).

References

Choudry, M., Latif, A., & Warburton, K. G. (2018). An overview of the spiritual importances of end-of-life care among the five major faiths of the United Kingdom. Clinical medicine (London, England)18(1), 23–31.Doi: https://doi.org/10.7861/clinmedicine.18-1-23.

Goligher, E. C., Ely, E. W., Sulmasy, D. P., Bakker, J., Raphael, J., Volandes, A. E., Patel, B. M., Payne, K., Hosie, A., Churchill, L., White, D. B., & Downar, J. (2017). Physician-Assisted Suicide and Euthanasia in the ICU: A Dialogue on Core Ethical Issues. Critical care medicine45(2), 149–155. Doi:https://doi.org/10.1097/CCM.0000000000001818.

Alternative Expert Answer and Explanation

The idea of euthanizing patients is contentious especially when it comes to the Christian faith including how Christians view the world. Going through the presented topic readings and resources, one can understand the existing narrative concerning the sin of suicide. Historically, some cultures deliberately caused the deaths of babies born with disabilities, and with the discovery of analgesics during the 19th century, the ethical debate about assisted suicide raged on.

While the practice is legal in various U.S. states including Oregon, some are reluctant to adopt it, and even in states where it is legalized, not everyone accommodates the idea of euthanasia Grand (Canyon University, 2023).

Religious values and beliefs come to play in discussions that involve the sin of suicide. Almost all religious faiths recognize the sacredness of life, and this is particularly noticeable with the Christian faith which views human life as sacred. According to the Christian narrative about creation, God made humans in his likeness, and this alone explains the sacred aspect of human life (Renee, 2017).

Based on this premise, a Christian would argue that people should treat every life with respect. They would also draw inspiration from one of the Ten Commandments which requires people not to take any life.

My thoughts about assisted suicide contradict the secular views about the subject. Although it is important to treat a patient with dignity and respect either their decisions or the decisions of their family members, it is insensible to use euthanasia just because a patient is terminally ill. According to the biblical narrative, God has every solution to every problem, and God expects people to respect human lives (Renee, 2017).

Instead of opting for assisted suicide, therefore, a Christian would keep on believing and praying that God would help heal them irrespective of their health status. I, therefore, agree with the Christian perspectives about life and death.

References

Grand Canyon University. (2023). Euthanasiahttps://search-credoreference-com.lopes.idm.oclc.org/content/entry/galegnaah/euthanasia/0?institutionId=5865.

Renee, M. (2017). Three End-of-Life Cases: Resolving THEIR Moral Dilemmas. Ethics and Medicine, 33 (2), 107-120. https://www.proquest.com/docview/1901683914/fulltextPDF/79642D3CA804C4FPQ/8?accountid=7374&parentSessionId=9pO6O46i6gTYgISFNIM02XZeAYaDlJ1ODnBow7Jde%2BA%3D.

Case Study on Death and Dying

The practice of health care providers at all levels brings you into contact with people from a variety of faiths. This calls for knowledge and understanding of a diversity of faith expressions; for the purpose of this course, the focus will be on the Christian worldview.

Based on “Case Study: End of Life Decisions,” the Christian worldview, and the worldview questions presented in the required topic Resources you will complete an ethical analysis of George’s situation and his decision from the perspective of the Christian worldview.

Provide a 1,500-2,000-word ethical analysis while answering the following questions:

  1. How would George interpret his suffering in light of the Christian narrative, with an emphasis on the fallenness of the world?
  2. How would George interpret his suffering in light of the Christian narrative, with an emphasis on the hope of resurrection?
  3. As George contemplates life with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), how would the Christian worldview inform his view about the value of his life as a person?
  4. What sorts of values and considerations would the Christian worldview focus on in deliberating about whether or not George should opt for euthanasia?
  5. Given the above, what options would be morally justified in the Christian worldview for George and why?
  6. Based on your worldview, what decision would you make if you were in George’s situation?

Remember to support your responses with the topic Resources.

Prepare this assignment according to the guidelines found in the APA Style Guide, located in the Student Success Center. An abstract is required.

This assignment uses a rubric. Please review the rubric prior to beginning the assignment to become familiar with the expectations for successful completion.

You are required to submit this assignment to LopesWrite. A link to the LopesWrite technical support articles is located in Class Resources if you need assistance.

Case Study: End of Life Decisions

George is a successful attorney in his mid-fifties. He is also a legal scholar, holding a teaching post at the local university law school in Oregon. George is also actively involved in his teenage son’s basketball league, coaching regularly for their team. Recently, George has experienced muscle weakness and unresponsive muscle coordination.

He was forced to seek medical attention after he fell and injured his hip. After an examination at the local hospital following his fall, the attending physician suspected that George may be showing early symptoms for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), a degenerative disease affecting the nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord. The week following the initial examination, further testing revealed a positive diagnosis of ALS.

ALS is progressive and gradually causes motor neuron deterioration and muscle atrophy to the point of complete muscle control loss. There is currently no cure for ALS, and the median life expectancy is between 3 and 4 years, though it is not uncommon for some to live 10 or more years. The progressive muscle atrophy and deterioration of motor neurons leads to the loss of the ability to speak, move, eat, and breathe.

However, sight, touch, hearing, taste, and smell are not affected. Patients will be wheelchair bound and eventually need permanent ventilator support to assist with breathing.

George and his family are devastated by the diagnosis. George knows that treatment options only attempt to slow down the degeneration, but the symptoms will eventually come. He will eventually be wheelchair bound and be unable to move, eat, speak, or even breathe on his own.

In contemplating his future life with ALS, George begins to dread the prospect of losing his mobility and even speech. He imagines his life in complete dependence upon others for basic everyday functions and perceives the possibility of eventually degenerating to the point at which he is a prisoner in his own body.

Would he be willing to undergo such torture, such loss of his own dignity and power? George thus begins inquiring about the possibility of voluntary euthanasia.

What would spirituality be according to your own worldview?

Expert Answer and Explanation

Case Study on Death and Dying

Human beings undergo different rites of passage that signify major changes in their day-to-day life. Understanding how the different rites of passage are critical in one’s life is key to a better and more fulfilling life. One of the most disturbing yet unavoidable rites of passage is in relation to the attribute of death and dying.

As a person grows older, they are getting closer to their apparent death (Hah, 2019). Death and dying are also critical in the healthcare sector, where medical professionals and patients have to make a decision on how to treat certain cases. When dealing with chronic illnesses in the healthcare setting, making end-of-life decisions can be met with ethical and moral challenges.

Patients might be focused on ending the pain and suffering while care providers obligated to ensure no harm has affected the patients (Hah, 2019). Christianity considers dying as part of life since it is the final stage before a person ascends to eternal life. This paper focuses on the case of George, who is contemplating assisted suicide after he is diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and would change from being self-reliant to becoming fully dependent on external aid.

Analysis of the Case

Interpretation of Case in Line with Fallenness of the World

The Christian Biblical narrative is based on the creation, fallenness, redemption, and restoration attributes (Scherz, 2017). Each of the four attributes can be used to help understand different areas of life and how they are in line with the Christian perspective. In relation to the fallenness of the world, the Christian narrative denotes that the world is filled with evil and suffering (Scherz, 2017).

Fallenness is based on the negative issues affecting human beings, such as sickness, poverty, pain, and misery. When a person is faced with sickness or shortcomings in different areas of their life, they are experiencing the fallenness of the world. The fall was first encountered when Adam and Eve ate the forbidden fruit and had to be subjected to the challenges within the world.

The case of George is a clear depiction of the fallenness of the world where a seemingly healthy person with a good family is suddenly diagnosed with a disease that would lead to his death in 3 to 4 years. At 50 years old, George is a legal scholar and successful attorney and also teaches at one of the local universities.

He has a prospering career and family and maintains a physically active life by acting as a coach for the basketball team, which his son also plays. However, after experiencing specific symptoms, George was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), which altered his life in totality. To create perspective, ALS as a disease leads to the degeneration of neurons in all the body muscles, which inhibits movements.

Over time, a person diagnosed with ASL begins to lose muscle functionality leading to the total loss of different body parts controlled by the myelin sheath. George would not be able to walk, talk, eat, move his hands and legs and even breathe on his own.

The most critical issue about the disease is that it does not have a cure, and the final years are filled with pain and suffering. However, George can interpret his suffering with the Christian Belief that God is all-knowing and he has a greater plan for everyone. Just like Job in the Bible, who was tormented by Satan, George would also be relieved through restoration to eternal life

Interpretation of Case in Line with the Hope of Resurrection

The diagnosis of ALS can be perceived as the end of the race, mainly for the physical form of human beings. However, Christian teachings advocate for life after death and that every person will be given a new body and taken to the land where there is no pain or suffering. Jesus Christ brought salvation and hope for resurrection when He rose from the dead after being buried for three days.

Just like Jesus, George can perceive the diagnosis as a temporary test, but he should still have the hope of resurrection (Hah, 2019). Human beings can look up to God and identify a purpose to lead a holy life full of integrity and love. Regardless of the fallenness of the world, there is hope for eternal life after the resurrection. George would interpret that his current suffering and struggles are temporary and will, at some point, end.

Value of Life for People with ALS

After the diagnosis, George would start to experience constant deterioration of body functionality, and the reality might shake his faith and belief in the value of life (Breen et al., 2018). However, George needs to keep his faith in God and believe that every person was created in His own image and likeness.

In this regard, human beings are God’s unique creations who have been bestowed authority over other creatures. Despite having ALS, George needs to believe that human life is sacred and needs to be protected and safeguarded at all times (Rumanti, 2020). In this regard, human beings are not allowed to kill or cause harm to themselves or to others.

Christian Worldview and Euthanasia

The Christian worldview is against any form of harm that is inflicted on a person. While the healthcare policies provide George with the power of attorney to decide what should be done with his body, there are Christian values that argue against self-harm. Christian beliefs can help George overcome the temptations of the fallenness of the world by providing hope for the future and a better outcome.

Christianity perceives human beings as of high value and that George ought to persevere through the pain and suffering with the promise of eternal life (Stylianou & Zembylas, 2018). According to the Christian worldview, George should not consider euthanasia.

Moral Justification for George

Based on the Christian worldview, human life is sacred, and a person shall not kill. The only option that George has is to live with the pain and hope for redemption or final restoration. Through redemption, George can testify to the mercy and power of God for overcoming a disease without a cure. On the other hand, through resurrection, George can proceed to have eternal life in a land with no pain and suffering.

Death can be tragic to those that remain as they would grieve the loss of a loved one and suffer in loneliness (Stylianou & Zembylas, 2018). However, they can find hope in knowing that they made the right decision in line with the Christian worldview. Christianity is based on beneficence (service to benefit the patient) and nonmaleficence (do no harm). The belief is that despite the challenges and suffering, life should be respected at all times.

Personal Worldview in the Case of George

In my worldview, I believe that human beings have a choice and can make decisions that are best for them as adults. Understanding the challenges created by ALS, it would not be easy to make routine functions such as breathing or even eating. To avoid the burden on others, I would opt for euthanasia when the symptoms become severe.

I would choose to take the first few years of normality to make peace with everyone and make sure that I am in line with the Christian teachings and guidance. When the symptoms worsen, I would consider euthanasia to help ease the pain, reduce suffering among family members, and also mitigate the burden that others would have to endure taking care of my every need.

It is proven that upon diagnosis with ALS, a person has about 3 to 4 years before they die. Spending the first of the three years with family and friends would be an achievement as I prepare for the final dying stage. Similarly, I would be able to have informed consent, which can be used as my power of attorney in deciding when it would be time to perform the euthanasia.

Conclusion

This paper focused on the case of George, who is contemplating assisted suicide after he is diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and would change from being self-reliant to becoming fully dependent on external aid. The Christian worldview provided guidelines that are important in safeguarding human life against vices such as euthanasia despite the fallenness of the world.

People need to find ways to overcome the challenges of the world without causing harm to others or to themselves. The strategies can help align a person to the Christian worldview and avoid making bad decisions when faced with death or while in the stages of dying. While euthanasia can help prevent further suffering for both the patient and the family members, it goes against Christian teachings. Christians should only be guided with the hope of redemption and resurrection.

References

Breen, L. J., Croucamp, C. J., & Rees, C. S. (2018). What do people really think about grief counseling? Examining community attitudes. Death studies.
https://doi.org/10.1080/07481187.2018.1506527

Hah, S. M. (2019). Intercultural missional leadership: Theological foundation and biblical narratives. HTS Theological Studies75(1), 1-9. http://dx.doi.org/10.4102/hts.v75i1.5211.

Rumanti, E. D. (2020). A Transformation of Backward by Design Model to Designing a Curriculum. Diligentia: Journal of Theology and Christian Education2(2), 51-67. http://dx.doi.org/10.19166/dil.v2i2.2059

Scherz, P. (2017). Grief, death, and longing in stoic and Christian ethics. Journal of Religious Ethics45(1), 7-28. https://doi.org/10.1111/jore.12166

Stylianou, P., & Zembylas, M. (2018). Dealing with the concepts of “grief” and “grieving” in the classroom: Children’s perceptions, emotions, and behavior. OMEGA-Journal of Death and Dying77(3), 240-266. https://doi.org/10.1177/0030222815626717

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FAQs

How will you cope with the death of a patient as a result of your mistakes?

  1. Acknowledge the situation: It is important to acknowledge and accept what has happened. This can be a difficult and painful process, but it is essential to face the reality of the situation and take responsibility for your actions.
  2. Express your emotions: It is normal to feel a range of emotions after a patient’s death, including guilt, grief, and anger. It is important to express these emotions in a healthy way, whether by talking to a trusted colleague, seeking support from friends and family, or seeing a professional counselor.
  3. Take steps to learn from your mistakes: Reflect on what happened and try to identify the factors that contributed to the patient’s death. This can help you develop strategies to prevent similar mistakes in the future. It is also important to be honest with yourself and others about what went wrong and take responsibility for your actions.
  4. Seek guidance and support: If you are struggling to cope with the situation, it may be helpful to seek guidance and support from a mentor or supervisor, a professional organization, or a support group for healthcare professionals who have experienced similar situations.
  5. Practice self-care: Coping with the death of a patient can be emotionally and mentally draining. It is important to take care of yourself, both physically and emotionally, by getting enough rest, eating a healthy diet, and engaging in activities that bring you joy and relaxation.

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