December 8, 2010

Exposure to Death Is “¦ Positive?

(Ivanhoe Newswire) -- Exposure to death and dying doesn't affect palliative and hospice care professionals negatively; in fact it can have positive benefits, according to this study.

A study was conducted on palliative and hospice care professionals in five centers across Canada. The researchers were exploring how death affects their personal lives and practices. It was thought that the insight of these people could benefit others since they're constantly around death. Participants reported that being around dying people has allowed them to have a better understanding of the meaning of life, has helped them become more spiritual, and has helped them come to terms with their own mortality.

"Participants reported that their work provided a unique opportunity for them to discover meaning in life through the lessons of their patients, and an opportunity to incorporate these teachings in their own lives," Shane Sinclair, Spiritual Care Services, Tom Baker Cancer Centre, Calgary, Alberta, and CIHR Postdoctoral Fellowship with the Manitoba Palliative Care Research Unit, University of Manitoba was quoted as saying. "Although Western society has been described as a death-denying culture, the participants felt that their frequent exposure to death and dying was largely positive, fostering meaning in the present and curiosity about the continuity of life."

"Participants attested to the weighty nature of their vocation, but this was far outweighed by the many affirming life lessons that participants incorporated into their own lives and practices," concludes Sinclair. "Although the end of life is arguably the most challenging phase of life, it may also be the most meaningful, providing hope to those who are living with an incurable illness as well as individuals who will inevitably face their mortality in the future."

SOURCE: CMAJ, published online December 6, 2010