Final Examination ‑ 60 Points 


1.  Type all essays on 8 1/2 x 11in. paper, double spaced. 


2.  You may use any resources at all in answering these questions but if you want to work with another student on the non‑personal answer, then you must obtain permission from the instructor. 

3.  Don't plagiarize.  Cite sources, even other people. 

4.  Students may and are encouraged to seek assistance from the  instructor, if needed. 

5.  Refer to the study guide. 

6.  Submit one essay each week according to the schedule prepared  by the instructor. Each essay may be reworked and resubmitted by the final examination date.  

7. Answer all of part A and five from part B.

   All essays must be turned in by the final class meeting.


Part A ‑ Answer all questions ‑ each worth 4 points. 

1.  What arrangements would you like to make concerning your own body after you have died, and what sort of funeral or mourning procedures or rites would you like carried out?  Why?  Be as specific as possible.  Write your own obituary and eulogy, assuming you were to die AT THE PRESENT TIME.  Write them even if you don't want them.  You may have a friend or relative write your eulogy for you.  

2.  If you were reasonably certain that you had only one more year to live, how would you try to spend it?  Be as specific as you can:  people (not names but relation to you); books, places to visit; activities; type of things to write or make; way of handling your death with those you meet, family, friends and strangers; decisions about hospitals and drugs; et alia.  What if you had only one month?  What if you had one day?  Why aren't you doing some of these things now?

3.  Describe the stages of death or dying, as presented by Dr. E. Kubler‑Ross.  What are the symptoms?  Give some examples of the indicative phrases, etc... How may one help another pass through each of these stages?  What cautions should be made concerning the adequacy and applicability of Dr. Ross' analysis or of any theory concerning the feelings of those who are approaching death?  Be somewhat extensive in your presentation.  Does a person need special training to help someone believed to be close to death? What are the alternative modes for caring for those who are believed to be close to death ? What are Hospices?  Will Hospices help?  Are they necessary?  Are they essential? 

4.  What are the five stages of Anticipatory Grief experienced by the members of the family of the ill person, as presented by Dr. Austin Kutscher?  What symptoms?  What can be done to help someone pass through these stages?  How does anticipatory grief relate to subsequent bereavement?  List and discuss all of Kutscher's 13 points. 

5.  What are the three Stages of Grief according to Dr. Roberta Temes and Geoffrey Gorer?  What are the symptoms?  Cite examples of indicative phrases, etc...How may one help another to pass through these stages?  What are some of the special problems in dealing with the grief of children: their cognitive development and special needs?  What can one do to help children in grief?  

6.  Describe the difficulty in deciding when a person is really o or finally dead.  How should the difficulty be resolved?  What should  the law state?  Why?  Be as precise and as adequate as possible. Be clear as to which type pf law you want.  If you wish to develop your own law then use legal language in the wording of the law. You are advised that it would be better to select one of the model laws to be found in the textbook or class handouts.  Be sure to explain what you take to be the essentially significant features of human life, the absence of which would be death.  Do not describe organ functioning alone as essential features characteristic of HUMAN life. 

7. What should the law state concerning the donation and transplantation of organs from cadavers?  What type of system should there be?  What are "neo-morts"?  What might they be good for?  What disadvantages might there be with the use of "neo-morts"?  Should they exist at all?  Under what circumstances, if at all?  What about the rights of the family and the long term effects of keeping "neo-morts"?  What might the consequences of a non-voluntary system for obtaining organs and cadavers be?  

8.  What does the "right to die" mean, if anything?  IF you think there is such a right , then who has the duty to provide death when it is requested?  What are the rights of the health care providers?  What is actually meant by most who use the term "right to die"? How might it be rephrased to have clearer meaning?  What then should the law state regarding such a "Right to Die"? What is to be done in the case of unconscious adults who were previously competent?  What of children who decides for them? Consider the examples provided in the text and in handouts. Which type of law do you prefer?  Why?  Be as specific as possible. Be as clear as possible in determining the order of decision making. If you want one of the examples changed in some way, state how. Be sure that your choice is clear and that your law covers all possible cases.   In your discussion be sure to consider all relevant distinctions, e.g., children and adults, competent and incompetent, persons never competent vs. formerly competent and conscious persons vs. unconscious persons.

9.  What is a "living will"?  What is good about it?  What is wrong with it?  Would you have one?  Do you?  What could be done to improve it?  How is it any better or worse than appointing a durable power of attorney or a proxy or legal agent?  What is the legal status of each option at the present time in the USA and in NY specifically ?  Would you have a living will? Do you? why or why not? Would you appoint a proxy? Have you? Why or why not? 

10.a)  How have your thoughts about death changed since taking this course?  Be specific.

b)  What aspect of this semester's class experience has been the most helpful?  Why? 

c)  What aspect of this semester's class experience has been the least helpful?  Why? 

d)  How would you change the course in order to improve it?  What could then instructor      do differently to improve the course?


Part B ‑ Answer any five questions ‑ each worth 4 points. 

1.  What could the phrase "Death with Dignity" possibly mean?  How could it be rephrased?  How does it relate to Avery Weisman's notion of an "Appropriate Death"?  Describe the characteristics of an "Appropriate Death". 

2.  How does the real possibility of the mass death and the total annihilation of the human species by nuclear, chemical, and biological warfare influence one's attitude toward death and toward one's mode of seeking immortality?  Discuss this in terms of Robert Jay Lifton's remarks and analysis. 

3.  What relation is there between certain sports and death?  Discuss this with reference to Edith Wyschogrod's concept of the "elemental".  Illustrate. 

4.  Which of all the novels and short stories concerning death which you have ever  read, including the Death of Ivan Illych, has meant the most to you and why?  Be somewhat extensive in your remarks. 

5.  Select any poet's works and discuss how their attitudes toward life and death are revealed in those works.  Discuss several poems and relate them to the poet's biography.

6.  Select any two dissimilar songs concerning death and dying and discuss them. 

7.  Select any two feature length films concerning death and dying and discuss them.  Select films from the listing on page 12 of the course outline.  You may substitute another film with the instructor's permission obtained prior to the submission of the essay. 

8.  What is TRIAGE?  How does such a situation exist at the local, national and global level? Who shall decide who shall live when not all can be sustained?  What method should be used?  Why?  How do you really think that the issue will be decided?  What can be done? 

9.  Based on the discussion and pertinent articles, what is a "rite of passage~?  What are the stages of the rite?  Describe how the bodies of the deceased, their spirits and their survivors EACH pass through each of these stages in the belief systems and customs of various groups (cite at least three different cultures). What are the functions of such rituals, both the social and  psychological?  

10. Who was Edgar Cayce?  What was his attitude toward death?  How is one who believes and follows Cayce's "~Readings" likely to deal with their own death and the deaths of loved ones?  Base you answers on the formal presentation or the Cayce literature.  

11.  What role does religious faith play in assisting believers in approaching their deaths and the deaths of loved ones? Be sure to consider the disadvantages as well as the advantages.  What of religions which have no belief in an afterlife such as Buddhism?Compare and contrast several different religious traditions from the Eastern and Western hemispheres. 

12.  What does the "Commodification of Death" mean?  How has the concept of a "natural death" changed in the last 700 years?  What are the forces or agencies which have commodified death and which continue to do so?  Are we likely to change our attitudes toward death in the industrialized, technological Western world? Contrast the "tamed death" with the "invisible death" or "forbidden death". 

13.  How did Socrates' death display the interrelationship of his attitudes toward life and death? Be sure to include Socrates' notion of the soul and its virtue and the theory of the corruption of being in the body?  How was pursuing Philosophy similar to "practicing dying"?

14. What is suicide? Should suicide be prevented? In all cases? If not , why not?  If so why? What are the main factors in determining your position?  Be sure to consider the cases of POW's, martyrs, spies, those in intractable pain, the incurably ill, etc...  Be clear and precise in stating your guiding principle.  What criteria do you use in distinguishing cases in which you would prevent the attempt from those in which you would not prevent an attempt, if that is your position. 

15.  Of what use, if any, are reports of psychic phenomena such as NDE"s or"out‑of‑body? experiences to someone attempting to formulate a position or perspective on death and dying? What are the two extreme interpretations of the NDE ?  What consequences do such experiences have for the living in the present?  

16.  How might the availability of selective abortion and amniocentesis effect our attitudes toward newborns, especially defective or anomalous newborns?  Who shall have the "right of consent" as far as medical treatment for defective newborns is concerned?  Who decides for the baby?  Is the principle of refusing "extraordinary" means applicable in this case?  Why or why not?  Be sure to define as precisely as possible what would be meant by "extraordinary " means.  Focus upon the pressures placed upon parents to abort the undesirable fetuses and the resultant unwillingness on the part of society to support those who do not.  

17.  What are the mutual rights and responsibilities of patients, family physicians and the society in which they live as far as judgments concerning defective infants, the retarded and the incompetent are concerned?  How does the decision to offer support and care relate to the responsibility to provide for that support and care?  What are the rights based upon ?  What are the implications of your position for our current practices? 

18.  Write an essay on violence in the USA, types of violence, factors contributing to it, consequences of violence and ways to mitigate against violence.  Summarize passages in the textbook which list these factors. 

19. Write an essay on death and violence and the electronic media, tv, film, music videos and the consequences for contemporary life and culture.