Historical Perspectives on Dying and Illness

: Historical Perspectives on Dying and Illness

The historical perspectives have contributed to studying the dying process in contemporary society. The development of hospice offered a way to care for the dying. It has improved the treatment of dying people and promoted research on the dying process. Hospice care has penetrated much of medicine that acknowledges that the quality of a patient’s life means addressing their psychological, physical, and spiritual needs. Therefore, the growth of hospice has enabled the medical system to meet the needs of the dying from chronic illness. 

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Hospice care has continued to evolve since historical times. The idea of a home-like environment was introduced to offer healthcare services within the patient’s actual home. The introduction of the home care model of hospice became widespread across the United States. Technological development has further evolved hospice care, leading to a new form of care, which enables patients to receive continuous life-extending treatment while accessing palliative care provided by hospice services. Technological advancement will provide an opportunity for palliative and hospice care programs to continue evolving and enhance their public acceptance and awareness. 

Kübler-Ross provides a series of five stages that a dying person goes through. These include denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. Kübler-Ross noted that hope was a common reaction through and within these stages. Therefore, Kübler-Ross provided a powerful tool that helps provide humanistic care for the dying patient. 

According to Perhaps Weisman and Hackett’s (1962), notes that denial is not always negative, as Kübler-Ross has pointed out. It is common for a patient to deny some realities regarding the illness they are diagnosed with. Denial helps to encourage a patient to take part in therapy to maintain hope. Denial functions as a defense mechanism, and its absence may not encourage a patient to take part in painful therapies. The coping responses to life-threatening illnesses that help a patient and family members include: taking appropriate actions, seeking information, passive acceptance, escape, displacement, suppression, disengagement, blaming oneself or others, and compliance. Therefore, these coping strategies help a person accept death and its consequences.

A person anticipating loss can experience grief reactions. They perceive anticipatory grief as a normal reaction to life-threatening illness. Examples of grief reactions include depression or sadness, preparation for death, and a plan to live with the effects of death. Most family members experience the challenge of continuous grief in anticipation of death may prompt them to disengage and isolate themselves from the dying person. 

Life-threatening illness can be understood based on a series of phases, including prediagnostic phase, which is the process of seeking medical assistance. The acute phase involves the period surrounding diagnosis of life threatening illness. The chronic phase refers to a person’s struggle with the illness and treatment. The majority of people may recover from illness. Although recovery might take place, a person may have to adapt to the anxieties, fears, residues, and after-effects caused by illness before going back to the life they experienced before illness. The terminal phase involves adapting to the uncertainty of the imminent death as treatment shifts to palliative. A person has to adapt to a number of tasks at each phase, which include: handle spiritual/existential issues facilitated by the disease effectively, reserve relationships and self-concept with others in the course of the disease, to take action in coping with the reality of the disease, and responding to the physical aspects of the illness. 


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