August 25, 2004

On Death and Dying

Elizabeth Kubler-Ross died on Tuesday.

I don't know - it's interesting - I don't know much about her (I only read one of her books, "On Children and Death", and that was when I was doing research for a part I was going to play) - but it does seem to me that her famous 5 stages of grief (denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance) - have so infiltrated our culture, and have so become a part of our understanding of the grieving process, that it's hard to imagine the intellectual landscape without her.

Posted by sheila

I took a class in highschool called Thanatology which is the study of death. I have never enjoyed or gotten so much from another class.
Kubler-Ross was like our Guru of Death. We studied everything she wrote.
You're so right about her 5 stages of grief.
I've always felt that I can deal with death-type situations better because of what I learned through her.
I'm sure a lot of people will be journeying through those 5 stages now because of this loss.

Posted by: DeAnna at August 25, 2004 03:08 PM

I wonder what her last thought was.

Posted by: michael at August 25, 2004 03:26 PM

I was a medical student in 1969 and Ross's work gained acceptance(no pun intended)rather rapidly as it filled both a conceptual as well as a therapeutic void. Like many truly innovative cultural concepts,in retrospect it seems to have occurred overnight. Think about the internet or about the anti-war and civil rights movements of the 1960's.
In my own field of pediatric oncology , the conceptual framework provided by Ross allowed us to watch her sequence, ending in acceptance unfold and it was exrtremly rare to see a patient go out kicking and screaming.
She was a constant presence in the mid seventies giving lectures and rounds and being generally accessable. Unfortunately at about that time to many of us she seemed to forget that our role as physcians was to prolong useful life as long as possible and as physician researchers we were to attempt to manage diseases long term(eg AIDS) and to attempt to cure them. In her later years her emphasis on acceptance seemed to work against medical progress and in some cases discouraged patients from seeking long term treatment or cures.
She became weird in those years-like a middle european maiden aunt angel of death and seemed to disappear from the mainstream medical community.
Despite the shortcomings of her later years, she will be remembered for her truly original work and for also having the tenacity and skill to see it actualized.

Posted by: mike at August 26, 2004 08:45 AM