732016 7655 - The Psychology of Death and Dying


The Psychology of Death and Dying

10 Oct , 2018  

  • An awareness that death comes to us all
  • A willingness to contemplate death – in you and/or loved ones
  • An open mind – able to shift from fear to acceptance

” We all have to face it at some point; an event of such enormity that it can make everything else in our lives seem insignificant: death, the end of our existence; our departure from this world.

We live in a culture that denies death. We’re taught that death is something we should shy away from, and try to forget about. If we start contemplating our own mortality – so this traditional wisdom goes – we’ll become anxious and depressed. And there’s no doubt that this is often the case. In psychology, Terror Management Theory suggests that a large part of all human behaviour is generated by unconscious fear of death. This fear generates a fundamental anxiety and unease, which we try to offset with behaviour such as status-seeking or strongly defending the values of our culture. We feel threatened by death and so seek security and significance to defend ourselves against it. Studies have shown, for example, that when people are made more aware of their own mortality, they tend to become more nationalistic and tribal and more materialistic.

However, this is by no means always the case. In fact, there is also a great deal of evidence showing that becoming aware of death can have a powerful positive effect, and bring about a radical shift in attitude and perspective   ”

– Psychology Today 7 Feb. 2014

That is what this course is about – becoming aware of death, making plans, considering others.

This Death course is very much one person’s perspective i.e. death through the eyes – and memories – of Peter Thomas. Peter also conceived the ‘Coping with Old Age’ course which has had many enrolments. As we start to age, many of us start to worry about coping with death – the deaths of others, friends and families. Also how our own death might impact on those we hold dear.

  • What preparation should be made?
  • What should/could you do with your time left?

Peter has his own views and philosophy on this and – with occasional examples drawn from his long career in theatre and cinema – he expands on his thoughts of the death process, the afterlife, the impact on loved ones.

Lecture 5: Does everyone die alone

We are all going to die – it is important what we do with our lives now as well as how our death will impact on others.

Lecture 6: What makes a life worth living?

Lecture 7: How much time do I have left?

At times this course is philosophical, wistful – humorous even. At other times there are moments of sadness, in particular when Peter (Instructor) brings up his anecdotes about people he has known, worked with, lived with and shared good times with – and have now passed away.

Lecture 26: How to prepare for the death of a loved one

This course may amuse, may educate, may elicit emotions you have not felt before. Perhaps you will become more wistful, caring.

When you face death – as Peter has done – you learn:

  • The future is unimportant
  • The past is unimportant
  • Life is in the NOW

Lectures 10 & 11: How carefully should we live our life?

You will develop:

  • A more appreciative attitude
  • A sense of gratitude

You will be grateful for:

  • Friends
  • Family
  • Being alive

Your worries about

  • Popularity
  • Career success
  • Previous embarrassments
  • Brexit!

….will seem less important…

You will be released from:

  • Fear
  • Ambitions (looking back on memories not plans)
  • Attachment

Lectures 24 & 25: How to prepare for your own death

The world will become more real, more vivid, more beautiful.

This is a course you will remember – it is for you – and those you leave behind.

Who is the target audience?
  • Everyone is going to die – but will everyone know how to cope?
  • Everyone who is thinking about making preparations for their death but does not know where to start
  • Anyone who wishes death was not a taboo subject
  • Share the feelings of the Instructor as he shares the realisation that time is limted
  • Anyone who is apprehensive about death

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