Expecting Death: Feelings and Emotions
In general, people do not like to think about death because thinking about their own or a loved one’s death usually causes unpleasant feelings, such as fear and sadness. But as unwelcome as it may be, the day and time of our death is something that we cannot control. And even if we know this deep within our minds, wanting to push such thoughts away and even pretend that they aren't true is natural. However, one day–no matter how much we wish it wouldn’t–every heart will beat for the last time.
Some deaths are unexpected and happen suddenly, such as a fatal car accident or a heart attack. Other times, as in the case of long-term illness like cancer or another possibly terminal disease, a person might have time to think about, process, and plan for his or her death. In both cases, death would be expected.
When we are aware of our approaching death (or the death of someone we care about) and have been given an estimated timeframe of how many days, weeks, or months are left, we experience an emotion called “grief” and go through what we call the “stages of grief.” Grief is an emotion of deep sadness caused by losing something or someone important to us that we love.
A doctor named Elisabeth Kubler-Ross worked with and counseled dying people for many years. She is well-known and respected for dividing the grief period into five stages of emotions that people may feel. People do not always go through all the stages or in any particular order. Though everyone experiences grief in a different way, knowing the emotions we may feel or that others may feel can be helpful.