Meaning of death

What is the meaning of death? Can meaning be found in the loss of a life? Are you struggling with your own sense of mortality; is someone close to you? Have you recently lost someone you loved?

In recent years, there has been growing interest in a more positive approach towards death and dying. The value of religious faith, death acceptance and resolving existential issues is being explored by researchers and clinicians alike. This Forum intends to bring people together who are interested in looking at the mysteries of death and dying from spiritual and existential perspectives. You are encouraged to post relevant articles in this Forum.

Palliative counselling is another development that deserves attention. Many people who are not confined in hospices, are also struggling with end-of-life issues. To die or not to die is a question being asked by people in all sorts of life situations.

Below is a list of articles found in our archives which deal with death; the pain of loss, the joy in a life well lived, the support found in those around you.

There are various links dealing with grief and suffering in our links section.

If you are planning to hurt yourself or someone else, call 911 (N America) 999 (UK/IRE) 112(EU) 000 (AU) 111(NZ) or your local emergency telephone service.

If you need to speak to someone immediatley for support, we reccomend these resources:
Girls and Boys Town National Hotline (USA) 1 800 448 3000
Samaritans (USA) 1 866 912 4673
Kid's Help Phone (Canada) 1 800 668 6868
(United Kingdom) 08457 90 90 90 (UK) - 1850 60 90 90 (Rep Ireland)
Lifeline (Australia) 13 11 14
Or check to find a help-line in your area.


Italian Funerals:
My experience of the death of my Nonno
Cynthia Logiudice

My Nonno (grandfather) was a great man in my sight. He lived his life making sure that everyone in his family was provided for, because he loved them so much. As my Nonno got older he began to show symptoms of senility. A year ago he was medically diagnosed with dementia.
(Full Article)

The 12-Step Tsunami Trauma Survival Guide
Paul T. P. Wong, Ph.D., C.Psych.
Coquitlam, B.C., Canada

"The Asian tsunami trauma is a different category of natural disaster in terms of scale and impact. Unlike most natural disasters, which tend to be one-time blows at a specific geographic location, the Asian tsunami catastrophe is almost worldwide in its scale; and its devastating impact on poor and highly populated nations may last for a generation..."
(Full Article)

The Art of Dying
An afternoon with Art Buchwald and Dave Barry
Ridley Pearson
24 January 2007
St. Louis Post-Dispatch

"Last summer, I learned how to die. Not that I want to practice everything I learn (how often do you actually use that high school trig?). In fact, I wouldn't mind waiting a while on that one, but it was interesting to sit at the feet of a master..."
(Full Article)

A Psychiatrist’s Approach to Death
Orville S. Walters

Men have tiptoed around the subject of death for centuries. They have avoided speaking the word death by using many euphemisms. But in recent years the taboo has been lessened by a great deal of writing that deals explicitly with death. Research papers, magazine articles and books have multiplied prodigiously. So much, in fact, has been written that the Journal of the American Medical Association recently carried an article titled “Dying is Worked to Death.”
(Full Article)

Control in the uncontrollable - the case of cancer
Isla Carboon
PhD candidate
University of Melbourne, Australia

"A sense of control is fundamental to our wellbeing. An awareness of our agency and efficacy underpins the motivation for much of our behavior - without a belief that we can successfully act upon our environment to fulfill our needs, we no longer have a foundation upon which to proceed..."
(Full Article)

Creating Meaning out of Conflict and Tragedy
Cathy Patterson-Sterling MA, RCC
British Columbia, Canada

"There is no doubt that times of tragedy as well as conflict in our lives are extremely painful on an emotional level. The gift of these moments, however, is that through tragedy we can achieve a greater sense of clarity into our own character as well as value system. During tragedy and conflict, we have the opportunity to test our strength in character and utilise our abilities..."
(Full Article)

Death, the Ultimate Loss - How to help a friend in their grief
Julie Ireland
Denver, CO, USA

"I remember returning to work after my mother died. Suddenly every door to my coworker's offices was tightly shut. Hardly anyone mumbled a word to me. There was no card. There were no flowers. No hugs. There wasn't even a kind word from 95% of them..."
(Full Article)

Does Terri Schiavo's life have meaning?
Micheal Levy
Fort Lauderdale, Florida, U.S.A.

"Does a person who has suffered brain damage and can no longer feed themselves deserve to live, or should they be starved to death?"
(Full Article)

The First Precept: Reverence for Life
Thich Nhat Hanh

"The First Precept is born from the awareness that lives everywhere are being destroyed. We see the suffering caused by the destruction of life, and we undertake to cultivate compassion and use it as a source of energy for the protection of people, animals, plants, and minerals..."
(Full Article)

From Death Anxiety to Death Acceptance:
A meaning management model
Paul T. P. Wong
, Ph.D.

"All human drama is, to a great extent, a story of how human beings cope with the terror of death, and how they overcome death anxiety through a great variety of conscious efforts and unconscious defence mechanisms..."
(Full Article)

LIFE TIPS: The stages of life. What we all go through!
World Peace Newsletter
Reprinted with permission

"Although each of us is unique in thousands of ways, we all share the human experience of being born, living and dying. It is helpful to realize that we are not alone when it comes to dealing with life's challenges and setbacks..."
(Full Article)

Living with Dignity and Palliative Counseling
Paul T. P. Wong, Ph.D.
President, INPM

Catherine Stiller

"Euthanasia and assisted suicide continue to spark strong emotional reactions and heated debates. Proponents on both sides of the controversy have presented compelling arguments based on individual rights, compassion, medical ethics and societal responsibility..."
(Full Article)

The Meaning of Indigenous People's Suffering
Rosemary I. Patterson, Ph.D.

"...During my research I have been struck by the suffering inflicted on Indigenous people by their technologically powerful but incredibly Ethnocentric Monocultural colonizers. Once these colonizers managed a foothold on foreign lands they set about to impose their value systems composed of Christianity, Democracy and Capitalism upon the occupants of the colonized lands..."
(Full Article)

Meaning of Life and Meaning of Death in Successful Aging
Paul T. P. Wong, Ph.D.
President, INPM

"I can never forget the angry reaction from a number of seniors right after the key- note address on successful aging at a major gerontological society convention. The speaker was a prominent authority on the topic, yet his message was met with disapproval and even anger from a small group of seniors standing close to me..."
(Full Article)

Meaning Management Theory and Death Acceptance
Paul T. P. Wong,
Ph.D. C.Psych

"Imagine yourself on board a train, which is out of control and doomed to end in a fatal crash. Nothing can be done to slow it down or to change the track. Worse still, there is no exit – no one can get out of the train. As a passenger, how would you cope? What would ease your death anxiety?..."
(Full Article)

Pope John Paul II on the Meaning of Life and the Dignity of Suffering
Paul T. P. Wong, Ph.D., C.Psych.
Coquitlam, B.C., Canada

"Pope John Paul II died on April 2, 2005. A sea of pilgrims are descending on Rome to pay their last respect to their long-serving, long-suffering spiritual leader. The world is united in celebrating his lifetime extraordinary achievements. Accolades and tributes continue to pour in from all over the world, and significantly, from prominent leaders of other faith traditions..."
(Full Article)

Transformation of Grief through Meaning-management
Paul T. P. Wong, PhD. C.Psych.
Trinity Western University
Langley, BC, Canada

"Grief is an inevitable, universal experience, more commonly experienced than death. So much of life is about loss. Going through life is to endure a series of losses, which include the loss of health, roles, identity, homeland, and loved ones through betrayal or death. Grief is the normal emotional response to loss..."
(Full Article)

What is the psychological impact of 9/11?
Paul T. P. Wong
Ph.D., C.Psych.
Toronto, ON, Canada

"Five years after the catastrophe on 9/11, its impact is still being felt. It continues to dominate the news and American consciousness. The recent release of the docudrama World Trade Center, the escalating war on terror, and the rising casualties in Iraq and Afghanistan all conspire to remind people that we are living in a post-9/11 era. The world has changed in fundamental ways - politically, culturally and psychologically..."
(Full Article)


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