Bereaved individual's embodied experiences at the moment of death within the context of them being physically present or absent
Despite there being a vast amount of research within the field of bereavement, as well as death and dying, there are still some experiences which are yet to be explored within the literature. One of the aspects seen within the bereaved and medical communities is that of patients and relatives achieving a ‘good death’. The ‘good death’ has transpired as being physically present at the moment of someone’s death. Although there have been a handful of studies which have looked at presence at the moment of death, the current study explored the embodied experiences of bereaved people who were physically present or absent at the moment of death. Nine participants took part in semi-structured interviews, which explored how they made sense of the phenomenon. Interpretative phenomenological analysis (IPA) was used to analyse the transcripts and what emerged were three inter-connective super-ordinate themes of: ‘connecting to the body and emotions’, ‘putting the moment of death into the wider context’ and ‘endings and beginnings’. Participants spoke of their relationship with their bodies, their emotions and the dying person’s body. As the experiences were context bound, participants mentioned the challenges of choice at the moment of death and the connectivity to their wider family and societal networks. Finally, physical presence or absence at the moment of death not only brought about the significance of saying goodbye but also life changes in response to the event. These findings go against the longstanding medicalied view of death to offer a different way of looking at bereavement as well as death and dying. In doing so, they offer application to practice for counselling psychologists, but also those working with the dying as an attempt to incorporate the body into providing holistic care to people.
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