Based on my reading of Media Discourse on autonomy in dying and death by Christina Quinlan
Death, while certain, comes in many guises. While it is inevitable, there is a fear of death, a fear of the unknown. Birth can be recalled in the narrative of one’s mother, death is a solo journey and while people talk of near death experiences and seeing lights we have no definitive explanation of the death experience. We can only discuss death as the onlooker.
Research in Ireland has established that most people would prefer to die at home (O'Shea et.al.2002). However research shows that of the 30 thousand deaths recorded in Ireland each year 66% occur in hospital with 40% of hospital deaths occurring in acute hospitals (Murray 2010).
Most people aspire to live a full life, and slip away peacefully in their own bed. Life is not perfect and for many how and where we die is outside our control. The findings in Christina Quinlan’s paper indicate a gulf between the public’s understanding and experiences of dying and death, compared with those of clinicians and other healthcare professionals (Quinlan 2009)
The circumstances of death can be described as tragic, untimely, and horrific. The death of the young person is tragic, untimely and heartbreaking for those left behind. Where the death is due to illness, there may be time to prepare for death. With the support of the hospice staff, surrounded by family the patient may have been able to find peace, and spend time with his/her family and friends in a meaningful and effective way.
Professor Regina McQuillian in her talk at the Peacock Theatre (16 October 2007) speaks of a 'scandalous death' referring to the death of Dorothy Black at Leas Cross Nursing Home’. This was indeed a 'scandalous death' where Dorothy was failed by institutional neglect. While this is a tragic story, there are many nursing homes where people are well cared in the winter of their lives, and they have a peaceful death...