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What if dying isn't as bad as we think?

October 18, 2017

Research suggest that maybe we shouldn’t worry so much about our own end.


“What if death is not as bad as we fear?,” asks Jessica_E. Brown in her article in ‘The Guardian’, discussing a research on the topic.





The idea of death, the fear of it, haunts humans more than anything else, she says, “it terrifies us”.


However, researchers have found death can determine our prejudices. To go by the study findings, we don’t need to worry so much. The new research compares our perception of what it’s like to die with the accounts people facing imminent death.


Researchers analysed the writing of regular bloggers with either terminal cancer or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) who all died over the course of the study, and compared it to blog posts written by a group of participants who were told to imagine they had been diagnosed with terminal cancer and only had only a few months to live. They looked for general feelings of positivity and negativity, and words describing positive and negative emotions including happiness, fear and terror.


Blog posts from the terminally ill were found to have considerably more positive words and fewer negative ones than those imagining they were dying – and their use of positive language increased as they got close to death.


Researchers also compared the last words and poetry of inmates on death row with a group of people tasked with imagining they were about to face execution. Again, there were fewer negative words from the prisoners. Overall, those facing death focused more on what makes life meaningful, including family and religion.


“We talk all the time about how physically adaptable we are, but we’re also mentally adaptable. We can be happy in prison, in hospital, and we can be happy at the edge of death as well,” Gray said.“Dying isn’t just part of the human condition, but central to it.”.


Lisa Iverach, a research fellow at the University of Sydney, explained, “Individuals facing imminent death have had more time to process the idea of death and dying, and therefore, may be more accepting of the inevitability of death. They also have a very good idea about how they are going to die, which may bring some sense of peace or acceptance.”


But not all of us will know how, or when, we’re going to die in advance of it happening, and therefore will miss out on any benefits to be had by uncovering its uncertainty.


Havi Carel, Professor of Philosophy at the University of Bristol said, “I think you get used to the idea of dying, like we get accustomed to many things. The initial shock after receiving a poor prognosis is horrific, but after months or years of living with this knowledge, the dread subsides.”


Nathan Heflick, researcher and lecturer at the University of Lincoln, said,“The less something is openly discussed, the scarier it becomes.”


Read full article here:

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