Friday, November 02, 2012

Death and Psychotherapy

All people will die. We all go to the grave, sooner or later. No one is exempted. Death then is an "anxiety" common to the entire humankind regardless of one's status in life.

This All-Souls' Day, I'm reminded of my younger sister who died several years ago. While speaking to her in the ICU unit of a hospital, there was certainly no way of distracting herself from thoughts of dying. After comforting and praying for her, I sensed the deep helplessness and loneliness of what she had to go through. She did face a lot of pressures approaching the end of her life.

Author Dr. Douglas Miller once wrote, "Patients with serious medical conditions frequently suffer psychological, relational, and spiritual distress that is being inadequately addressed by modern health care."

For a dying patient, there are "gaps" that need to be filled. Psychologically, there could be issues of depression, anxiety, and denial. Relationally, anxieties linked to family and how it's going to handle one's illness and death must be addressed. Finally, and most importantly, the spiritual needs of the dying patient involve questions of the meaning of life as well as the afterlife.

Indeed, there is a lot of point to making the most of the limited time we have on earth. We need not avoid thoughts of death. If we allow some healthy dose of it, it can help us prepare to know what this life is all about ... and beyond.

"I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die," Jesus said (John 11:25, 26).

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