Reconceptualising death

Paul Sinclair

in Rethinking palliative care

Published by Policy Press

Published in print April 2007 | ISBN: 9781861349217
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9781447303244 | DOI:
Reconceptualising death

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The contradiction that palliative care devalues people who are dying while aiming to value them asks many questions of palliative care. This contradiction shows a deep confusion about devaluation and its processes. Something in palliative care's understanding of death as it relates to devaluation must, therefore, intersect with this contradiction and help sustain it. This chapter explores this connection with palliative care's conceptualisation of death that, naturally, reflects rather than challenges modern values and understandings of death. The discussion analyses the romantic idealisation of the compassionate ethos of the public-health approach of Kellehear (2005a) and, by implication, the romantic idealisation of the religious ethos of palliative care. Understanding the conceptualisation of death behind this idealisation makes clear the costs, with respect to the meaning of death, of universalising death and loss. Key nuances arising from the insights of Social Role Valorisation theory enable this monolithic and universalistic idea of death to be disassembled. The chapter begins by setting the groundwork for exploring the three faces of death. Using a ground breaking and unifying concept from Wolfensberger (1992a) to contextualise the idea of death, the discussion then turns to deriving the triune face of death.

Keywords: palliative care; death; dying; public health; religious ethos; SRV

Chapter.  9076 words. 

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