Enabiling a Good Death
In this essay I will be discussing what the term a good death means, in doing this I will begin by defining a good death and what this means for different people and cultures. I will also discuss the problems associated with the ???good death concept??™ such as suicide, sudden death and martyrdom. Finally I will discuss what the role of medicine plays in achieving a good death such as in the case of patients receiving palliative care.
There is no single definition when it comes to defining a good death, as death and how a person dies will vary for each patient. In 1997 the institute of medicine defined a good death as: ???a good death is one that is free from avoidable distress for patient??™s families and care givers: in general accord with ???patients??™ and reasonably consistent with cultural and ethical standards.??? Important factors when considering a good death are:
?· Control of symptoms and pain
?· Preparation of the anticipated death
?· Opportunity for closure of life and the chance for friends and families to say goodbye to their loved one.
?· A good relationship with care professionals
?· Having a choice of where to die
It could be argued that society perceives a good or appropriate death as one that happens naturally in old age and following the natural order of life for example dying before younger members of one??™s family and without pain although a pain free death, is widely accepted as a good death for people living in western society however, in contrast there are other cultures such as Muslims who do not believe that a pain free death is a good death, as they believe that the more pain that is experienced at death
Less pain will be experienced following death. ???Family members sometimes under- report the degree of pain which patients are experiencing because of their belief that the more pain is felt at death the less will be experienced after death.???
As I have discussed earlier for many the idea of a good death is perceived as one that is timely, when a person has died at an old age, pain free and surrounded by their loved ones, therefore it can be argued that if a person at the time of death has had a good innings then the death is natural. However in any society people do die for whatever reason while they are young and before they reach old age. Although sudden death, for example being killed instantly in a road accident may be better for the individual this will not be the case for their family and friends of the person as they not only have to deal with the shock and grief of losing their loved one at a young age but they also do not have an opportunity for closure or to prepare for the death.