Taking Responsibilty

It is the American way to defend “freedom” for anything and freedom to choose whether or not to do advanced directives is no different.  This is demonstrated by the fact that two thirds of all people do not have a “living will” (see statistics in America as stated in the Jacoby’s article called [Taking Responsibility for Death ]).  Patients are reluctant to make these major decisions for many reasons including political, religious, not understanding medical procedures. Sometimes, the patient simply does not want to face their own mortality.  Americans should take responsibility to make their end of life wishes known.  Advanced directives should be seriously considered much before The Patient Self-Determination Act is enforced upon entering a hospital.  In many cases, a patient’s indecision can result in financial or emotional disasters for loved ones left behind.  If advanced directives are made while the person is alert, alive, and coherent, then loved ones will be eased from some burden.


A family member may accept being a health care proxy.  If a person agrees to this, that person should do exactly what the incapacitated person would have wanted as though she was capable of making the decision himself/herself.  It is important the proxy clearly understands the dying person’s wishes to the best of his/her ability.  If the dying person never appointed a proxy, the surrogate must act according to his/her best knowledge of what the other person wanted –even when it was never explicitly stated.  This includes acting within the legal means of the law.

In many cases, a patient will never be as familiar with medicine as their doctor considering how extensively the physician has been trained and educated.  There are some traditional areas that advanced directives concentrate on, though, which may guide people through the decision process.

  • The possible positive and negative outcomes of procedures including cardiopulmonary resuscitation, feeding tubes, ventilators, and dialysis
  • Questions about pain and comfort
  • The organ donation procedure
  • The use of antibiotics which may prevent death by natural causes
  •  Do not resuscitate and the possibility of possible negative outcomes such as persistent vegetative state, locked in etc

The patient should also feel confident that his/her wishes will be upheld in the event of sudden catastrophe such as an accident.  At the end of this discussion, the person should have confidence the doctors will be forthright and honest about futility analysis.

The patient and family should clearly understand any decision that may affect their own body.  They should indeed question anything they do not understand – at any time.  This may include why a medicine is being given; what are the side effects; is medicine necessary; is it recommended; will it prolong death;   People must communicate openly with the doctor or else we limit our options and may not be comfortable with our decisions.

Let’s talk about dying

So, I just randomly stumbled across this TED talk video during my casual stroll across the interweb and it really caught my attention. Mr. Peter Saul touches on how a majority of people “deny” death and are unprepared for an end-of-life event. He also goes into some research he had done with end of life patients in which the patients were asked what they wanted before death. A lot of what he was lecturing arose interesting questions that a majority of us don’t ask ourselves or others like, “Who would speak my wishes if I was incapacitated” or “Do you have a plan for your own or a family members death”; all very prominent questions that a majority of people disregard.

An interesting topic that I took from the lecture was the advertisement of life and life promoting quotes and how they can pertain to death. I believe that by promoting our knowledge of life and death synonymously in our society today, it could eventually lead those who fear, deny, or are unaware of death towards the acceptance of our dying process.

Just a little brain food for all my fellow bloggers! I hope you enjoyed it and don’t be scared to reply, new perspectives and insights are always welcome!

Kung Fu Panda

Disney makes a lot of great movies for families. Growing up, my friends and I learned a lot from Disney films like never giving up. In fact, I think most parents relied on Disney to teach their children about life– you know, things that are awkward for adults to explain.

Like.. where do babies come from?

Like.. where do babies come from?

Anyways, Disney does a fine job demonstrating life principles and moral concepts. But, what about the idea of death?

Truthfully, Disney is not the greatest presenter of death. Most beloved Disney movies have violent depictions of death. These movie titles include: The Lion King, The Little Mermaid, Bambi, Tarzan, and The Incredibles. In Tarzan, for example, the villian Clayton entangles himself in a mass of vines in an attempt to kill Tarzan for thwarting his plans. Clayton slashes away mindlessly with a machete to free himself. Unknowingly, a vine ropes around his neck like a noose and kills him. His hanging body could be seen swaying as a shadow against a tree. Such image misleads children to believe that all death is horrific. The fact that Clayton’s death is covered up and shown as a shadow conveys the idea that death is taboo and it should not be embraced. The images support the idea that America is a “death denying culture”.

But death should not be seen as scary. And not all deaths occur as tragic accidents (unless you are in a Final Destination movie).

A kid-friendly movie which depicts death in a more helpful way is Kung Fu Panda (Sorry, Disney fans.)

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In the movie, the death of the wise Master Oogway (it means “tortoise” in Chinese) is metaphorically represented, which opposes other literal approaches. In the scene, Master Oogway announces, “My time has come”, which shows a personal acceptance of his fate. This acceptance shows the younger audience that death will happen to everybody and that it should be embraced.

Master Oogway used the peach seed as a metaphor for the cycle of life and the eventual coming of death. One can not force the peach seed to grow on its own; likewise, you cannot force death to stop, because it is not something you can control.

Before Master Oogway ascends in the form of flower petals, he gives Master Shi Fu  his cane. This represents the leaving of physical materials once one dies (Fun fact: “Shi Fu” means, “master” in Chinese, so his name is “Master Master”!) The movie shows death to be peaceful. Although it is not a clear physical explanation of death, the emotional approach to death is well-explained here.

Do you think cartoon films with dramatic deaths are better for kids? Or do you think the ideal, normal types of death would be more beneficial for children? Maybe neither? Tell me why!

Here is the clip of Master Oogway’s gentle passing: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lE1_q754Xxk

Gran Torino

When I think of death in movies, I always think of the movie Gran Torino. Gran Torino was about an old man, Clint Eastwood, who lived in a bad neighborhood where crime rates were very high. He was a war veteran, very strong and tough. One of the teenage boys in the neighborhood tries to steal Eastwood’s car to be initiated into a gang, but Eastwood catches him in the act. The boy’s mom makes him go help Eastwood around the house to be forgiven for the bad he has done. Eastwood hated the thought at first, but let him help anyway. Eastwood grows to like the young boy, and unfortunately in the end, dies for him and his family.

The movie portrayed death as an act of honor or dying heroically for someone else. The young boy had a problem with gangs, such as getting beat up, and the boy’s sister got raped by a few people in the gang, also. Eastwood knew that this problem was never going to stop, so in order to save the family, he went to the gang neighborhood. Eastwood went without a gun, but acted like he had one. He was shot by every gang member, and the members were put in jail, never able to bother the family again. This, however, is misleading since in the real-word, people often die from illnesses or accidents. Far fewer people die for the sake of others, like Clint Eastwood did in this movie.  Although, I do think the media portrayal had some helpful concepts of death in it, such as the grieving process that people go through when someone dies. When the boy and his family got the news, they ran down to the ambulance. They all were crying hysterically. This part is a lot like the real world because a lot of crying is involved when someone dies.

This movie did support the idea that America is a “death denying” culture. Throughout the entire movie, Clint Eastwood is coughing up blood. The viewers of this movie also saw that he smoked, which was probably causing him to cough up blood. So, during the movie, every viewer knew that Clint Eastwood had some illness, and he was going to die soon. Every viewer denied that he would die in the movie. He could solve any and every problem, and he was too strong of a man to die. Every viewer hoped to see him live. When Clint Eastwood died, not by illness, but by gunshot wound, saving the ones he cared about, it was still hard for the viewers to process this. Every viewer grew fond of Clint Eastwood and denied the fact that he was going to die. Society makes it seem like the people you are fond of are not going to die, and people do not have to worry about that. People grow close to others and deny the fact that their loved ones will die someday. Society sweeps the “death talk” under the rug and decides not to think or talk about it. Society likes to think that death only happens in the movies, until it actually affects us.

Book Suggestion: Stiff by Mary Roach


I highly recommend the book Stiff by Mary Roach.  It is a fascinating book about cadavers — what happens to the body after death, how cadavers have been used and dealt with throughout history, and much more.  It ties into our discussion today — it is where I learned about the guy that tried to weigh the soul.  I listened to this book several years ago, just because I thought it sounded interesting.  I can honestly say it is laugh out loud funny (Mary Roach is a hoot), and yet the topic is strangely compelling at the same time.  It is not a textbook (it reads so much easier than that), but I think it could be a nice companion to our class experience.


Disney’s UP <3



      The movie UP is a sweet, heart warming story. In the beginning of the movie Carl and Ellie meet as young kids, who both love adventure. As you get to know the characters the shy young boy Carl comes out of his shell a little when he is with Ellie, because she is wild and free spirited. As you begin to fall in love with both of the characters, they start to fall in love with each other. The first five minutes shows how they grow up, then end up getting married and going on so many adventures together. As they start to get older, Ellie becomes sick and dies, thus leading up to the opening of the movie. There sits a grumpy Carl a senior citizen who is depressed and alone now that is wife is gone. When she passes away he is so sad and decides to just let it overcome his entire life.

      I feel as though this is a very accurate depiction of what death in life is really like. When a loved one dies, especially a spouse, someone you see everyday, it has to be extremely hard to be motivated after that. The portrayal of death in this movie I don’t think is misleading at all. The audience is fully aware of Ellie’s death. Furthermore, the audience is probably more often than not, just as upset at this point, as Carl would be if he was a real person, and not just a cartoon.

      From my point of view, I would say that the media influences our understanding of death sometimes in the sense that they like to make it peaceful and simple. The people die in their sleep and they are forever comfortable. While really people are dying in hospitals, ambulances, in car crashes, murders, and from many different diseases that are anything close to comfortable. I feel as though the media masks the true heartache and disparity that can come with the death of a loved one. As I say that though, I also have to address that often times there are movies where people grieve their losses and the deaths aren’t always pretty. But, I would have to say that in general I feel like death in movies is often times simpler than real life. I think that the media influences us to think that death is as real as the movie that we are watching, everything works out, and will end up happy and beautiful in the end. When in reality sometimes life has loose ends and the sadness will never actually be gone, some part of you will always miss the person.

      Carl in this portion of the movie is a grumpy old man who sits inside like a hermit all day, I feel as though this only explains part of how people will react to death. This is because everyone is different. I don’t think that in one movie you can explain how death will affect everyone, because each life, and each story will be different. I think that the language in this movie shows that we are not all death denying but that verbally we tend to use other words for death. Or in this case specifically you visually get the point through visions of hospitals, tears, graves, and black colors. I think everyone knows that death will happen, and some people will deal with it differently than others.

      As this explanation of the movie focused mostly on the negative death in the first few minutes of the movie, it really does set the scene for the rest. Since I don’t like to spoil movies for people, and this is a Disney film, there is a happy ending, and a talking dog. If you haven’t seen this heart-warming movie yet, you have no life and should WATCH MORE MOVIES, only kidding, but for real, WATCH IT!! 😉

Prompt 1 ~ 9/5/13



 For this prompt I am using the TV show “American Horror Story” Season 1. In this show many people die either unexpectedly or on purpose and often characters can come back to life if they die in a certain house. When one of the main characters died- Addie a 40 year old lady with Downs Syndrome, the grief was almost unbearable. Unlike other characters on the show, she was was not evil and her death was pretty tragic. After being hit by a car, Addie thanked her mother for not putting her into the house and allowing her to die since she didn’t want to live forever feeling trapped. Overall, how death is portrayed in this show is a bit unclear but refreshing at the same time because it goes into the subject of immortality.

   I believe that the media has a huge influence on our understanding of death. because rather its the news or a TV show we always see it. The media can help us learn to grieve (for better or worse) because we are fed opinions by many people as we watch TV. The media does portray a diverse portrait of how society deals with death and dying. For example, think about the news. When we hear things like war and people dying we may feel sorry, but we don’t really grasp the full effect. However, when a famous celebrity passes on the whole country grieves as one. I think the media tries to glamorize death if there is such a thing. Going back to a war story, we only hear tidbits and not the full details however, when it came to the death of a famous celebrity such as Micheal Jackson, we got to hear how he died, the exact drug that killed him, where he was, the doctor who did it and so on. People were still talking about Jackson’s death a year later! To me, it seems like the media is only trying to gain interest of an audience, and nothing else when it comes to death. The media seems to cover only high profile deaths making other death in the nations seem unimportant. All in all, death might not be an east thing to talk about but, the media will give up any information they have on a “popularized death” instead of any regular civilians death for ratings.

  I am really on the fence with the idea that America is a “death denying culture,” most people know death in inevitable. Many people are shocked when a young person dies verses an elder. However, there are still some of those people who believe that they are invincible. I guess what it really comes down to is people’s personal experiences. A person who just had a loved one die will probably think of death more often than someone who has never experienced a person in their life die. I believe that it’s a huge barrier in between the argument of America being a “death denying culture.” Finally, in my opinion America should not deny death, it is going to happen rather it is tragic or peaceful, life is a time game that we can’t escape.