Death and Dying: Euthanasia Debate and Stages of Acceptance

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  • 0:01 Dying
  • 0:37 Stages of Grief
  • 3:15 Euthanasia
  • 5:21 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Natalie Boyd

Natalie is a teacher and holds an MA in English Education and is in progress on her PhD in psychology.

The end of one's life can be a difficult time, for both the person dying and their loved ones. In this lesson, we'll explore some end-of-life issues that people face, including the five stages of grief and the controversy surrounding euthanasia.


Trina has a problem. She has been diagnosed with a rare illness, which will cause her to die slowly and painfully. She's understandably upset, and her son Lou is trying to help her cope with her diagnosis.

Death is inevitable. Everyone dies at some point, but it can still be emotionally difficult for the person dying and for their loved ones. Both Trina and Lou are very upset that she is dying.

Let's look closer at the process of death, including the five stages of grief and the controversial subject of euthanasia.

Stages of Grief

Trina has just found out that she is dying, and she is very upset. In fact, she is going through a grieving process. That is, she is mourning her own death and dealing with serious emotions.

In 1969, Elisabeth Kübler-Ross proposed that there were five stages of grief. That is, when a person is dying or dealing with the death of a loved one, they will go through five stages. You can remember these stages with the acronym 'DABDA.'

'D' is for 'Denial.' At first, a person doesn't want to believe what they are hearing. When Trina found out that she was diagnosed with a terminal illness, she thought, 'This can't be happening to me.' Her son Lou, too, was in denial. He even asked the doctor to run more tests to confirm the diagnosis.

'A' is for 'Anger.' Once a person gets past denial, and they realize that they really are dealing with death, they feel angry. For example, Trina was angry at her doctor for diagnosing her with the disease, even though it wasn't really his fault.

'B' is for 'Bargaining.' Moving past anger leads most people to begin thinking about 'if-then' scenarios. Lou, for example, thinks to himself, 'If only she'd gotten things checked out sooner, then she'd be okay.' Trina, meanwhile, is silently making deals with her god. 'If you let me live,' she prays, 'I'll be a better person. I'll volunteer every week at the homeless shelter downtown.'

'D' is for 'Depression.' Eventually, a person recognizes that bargaining isn't going to work. This often leads to feelings of sadness and despondency. For example, when Trina realizes that trying to bargain for her life isn't making her better, she feels very depressed. She stays in bed all day and cries a lot.

'A' is for 'Acceptance.' Finally, after depression, many people find acceptance. This involves making peace with what's happening. Trina eventually realizes that she must accept the fact that she's dying, and she feels calm. She's not happy about it, but it's no longer keeping her up at night, either.

It's important to note that not everyone goes through every stage. For example, Lou is still stuck in bargaining. He might never get to acceptance of Trina's death, though it would be best for his peace of mind if he does.


Trina has accepted that she's going to die, but she's facing a death that will be painful and slow. She doesn't want to go that way; she'd rather die quickly and as painlessly as possible, so she asks Lou and her doctor to help her commit suicide.

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