Facing death: Dying is a happier process than you think, scientists say

Facing death: Dying is a happier process than you think, scientists say
Facing death: Dying is a happier process than you think, scientists say
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Most of us believe that death is a depressing process. However, a 2017 study reported by the Independent magazine showed that people nearing the end of their lives are surprisingly happy.

Research published in the journal Psychological Science compared how people imagine they will feel when they die with how people who are actually dying feel. He did this by looking at blog posts from people who were terminally ill or on death row.

The study found that people who imagined their own death tended to think it would be negative, worrying. But people who were actually dying tended to be more positive than expected.

Our results suggest that death is more positive than people expect: Encountering death may not be as grim as it seems.

“When we imagine our emotions during approaching death, we think mainly of sadness and horror,” says psychologist Kurt Gray of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. “However, it turns out that dying is not nearly as sad and scary as you think. The last blog posts of terminally ill patients and the last words of inmates on death row are full of love, social connections and meaning.”

Better than imagination

The first part of the study looked at blog posts from people who were suffering from terminal illness – either cancer or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). She also took blog posts of people who were supposed to imagine they were dying and wrote a blog post when they only had a few months left to live.

The researchers then used a computer program to examine these responses and look for the number of words that described negative or positive emotions. And they found that people who were actually dying had a lot more good emotions and a lot less bad ones. It also found that among people who were actually dying, the number of positive words actually increased as death approached.

A second study used a similar methodology, but examined letters written by people who were waiting to die and compared them to people who had to imagine themselves in that situation. Again, it was found that the tone of letters from people who were actually going to die was more positive.

The researchers say the results challenge traditional thinking about how we die and how we think about it. “Currently, the medical system is focused on avoiding death. This attitude is often motivated by the belief that death is terrible and tragic,” the researchers write in their article. “This focus is understandable given our cultural narratives. However, our results suggest that death is more positive than people expect: Encountering a mortal may not be as bleak as it seems.’

photo: Shutterstock, source: Independent.co.uk


The article is in Czech

Tags: Facing death Dying happier process scientists

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