7.0 Introduction

Chapter Introduction

As discussed in other chapters, death is a taboo topic of discussion and western societies have become death-denying or death-phobic, often resulting in a lack of death-related conversations. Although we may wish to avoid it, death is certain, whether it be our death or that of a loved one. Avoiding death-related discussions ultimately contributes to uncertainty, discomfort, and suffering at the end-of-life. When people do talk about death, it tends to be constructed as something to be feared, fought, and conquered. Conventional perspectives of death construct ideas about “proper” end-of-life care and experiences. These often fail to take individual wishes into account and can infringe on a person’s right to choose how they want to die. This chapter examines several types of end-of-life care: palliative and hospice, including the role of death doulas. It also explores the option of medical assistance in dying (MAiD).

Chapter Objectives/Learning Outcomes

After completing the chapter materials, you should have an understanding of:

  1. The complexity of dying with dignity.
  2. The diverse options at the end-of-life and the differences between them (i.e., palliative care, hospice, MAID/assisted dying).
  3. Terminology, attitudes, and perspectives, as well as laws and policies pertaining to end-of-life care in Canada and other countries.
  4. How social and cultural responses/constructions of death can impact end-of-life experiences and care.

Questions to Think About When Completing Chapter Materials

  1. What does death with dignity, or a dignified death, mean to you?
  2. How can palliative, hospice care and medical assistance in dying (MAiD) help a person die with dignity?
  3. What are you rights under Canadian law with regard to receiving medical assistance in dying (MAiD)? What restrictions are in place that could prevent a person from accessing MAiD? What recommendations would you make for further policy change?
  4. Compare and contrast two examples of assisted dying laws from other countries.


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On Death and Dying Copyright © 2022 by Jacqueline Lewis is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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