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What is a good death?
By Dr. Ong Tien Kwan
According to a study published in the American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry, there are 11 core themes of a good death. They are:
It should be noted that these are not applicable to all people, and in fact, is dependent on each specific individual. After all, we are all different and we have lived a different life with different values and priorities.
The three stakeholders are patients, family members and health care providers(HCP). The top three themes across all stakeholder groups were:
However, some discrepancies among the respondent groups were noted in the core themes: Family perspectives included life completion (80%), quality of life (70%), dignity (70%), and presence of family (70%) more frequently than did patient perspectives regarding those items (35%–55% each). In contrast, religiosity/spirituality was reported somewhat more often in patient perspectives (65%) than in family perspectives (50%).
I consider it significant that of the 11 core themes, only 3 involves physical comfort (preference for a specific dying process, pain free status, and treatment preference) while the rest involves the non-physical, or more specifically the emotional, mental and spiritual.
Thus, for a good death, the bulk of the dying process - after initially taking care of the patient's physical comfot - is actually to take care of his or her emotional, mental and spiritual needs. This is further borne out by the various deathbed phenomena that patients experience.