QUESTIONNAIRE ON DEATH
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The following questionnaire was given to the students. They were requested to put their names on it. After analysis some of the results were presented in the 2nd class with the permission of the students.
YOU MIGHT WANT TO COMPLETE THIS QUESTIONNAIRE BEFORE READING FURTHER!
What is your level of the fear of death? STRONG WEAK NON-EXISTENT
In your opinion, at what age are people most afraid of death? 0-12 13-19 20-29 30-50 Over 50
To what extent are you interested in having your image survive after your death? Very Interested Somewhat Interested Not Very Interested Totally uninterested
If you knew you had a limited time to live and were able to function on a normal level, how would you like to spend your time prior to your death?
I would make a marked change in my life-style and satisfy hedonistic needs (travel, sex, drugs, other)
I would become more withdrawn; reading, contemplating, and/or praying.
I would shift from my own needs to a concern for others.
I would attempt to complete projects; tie up loose ends.
I would make little or no change to my present life-style
I would try to do one very important thing.
I would consider committing suicide.
I would do none of the above.
To what extent do you believe suicide should be prevented? In every case In most cases In all but a few cases In no case
What is your opinion about the costs of funerals in the United States today?
Very much overpriced No one has to pay for what he doesn't want In terms of costs and services, prices are reasonable
Describe a death that bothered you (and may still bother you).
How were they related to you?
When did this death occur?
How old were you?
What was the worst memory you have of the death?
What was the best memory you have of the death?
Referring to the last category on the questionnaire, the results were usually read aloud in class if the student gave permission, and they usually did. It helps to show kids what their peers think about death, and that major death-related experiences they have had are not usually open for discussion.
One girl wrote about her grandfather dying when she was 11. At the funeral she was watching a horror movie with some relatives and she realized the deaths in the movie were related to the death of her grandfather, as well as the death of others around her. That became a terrible memory because she was suddenly presented with the idea she had no control over someone else's death.
Another wrote about how she, at 5 years old, was excluded from the mysterious death of her father. Her father committed suicide with a shotgun blast to the head. Her older sister, about 12 at the time, discovered the body. Here was a student, in the Senior year of high school, questioning the death of her father 12 years before and still desperately wanting the details that were denied her for all those years!
Many wrote about how family members crying over a death have affected them. That was especially true when sons saw their fathers cry. Some said they never saw it again. Most had that as a vivid memory etched into their mind.
There was one family in a serious battle after a death. It seemed members of the family were actively stealing furniture and valuables from the home and arguing over who was entitled to ownership because of an inadequate will. That had left very bad memories in the student's mind. The entire mess wound up in court which left the family split even more.
Having a pet die, or having to put one to sleep, left very negative feelings in students although one student mentioned her best memory of a death was seeing her dog wag its tail as the Vet was putting it down.
Another common comment was the dismay over not being able to say those precious last words ("I love you.", "I will miss you.", "Please forgive me...", etc.) to someone just before they died. Usually it was because the death was sudden and unexpected or the kid was excluded from the death scene. In the latter case, kids don't forgive! One kid knew her uncle died suddenly about 4 years before but was excluded from any details, including the funeral and any discussion following. Knowing the uncle took his life with a pistol and the local police were involved, I suggested that later in the semester she ask the detective, that is one of the speakers to the Death Education class, and who was involved in the case, what the details were.
Seeing the body in a casket leaves both "worst" and "best" memories. Looking at the deceased and believing the eyes are moving, that breathing is detected. or the person looked "terrible" were some of the students' worst memories. Some were left with a beautiful memory picture of the deceased, even though their final living days took a terrible toll on the person's physical features, and it seemed to leave a lasting comfort.
More information derived from the questionnaire will be presented in later chapters.
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