Acceptance of Death: Positive Thinking by Dr. Ogawa

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I sprained my ankle last Sunday…Ugh!

Then, I went to see a doctor at Higashi Nagoya National Hospital next day. I found a leaflet which said the hospital’s ideal, basic policy, doctors’ schedule for out-patients at the waiting room, and some essays written by its staffers, and was reading it while waiting for being called my name.

I’ve found an interesting article written by Dr. Kenji Ogawa, the chief of clinical research department (respiratory apparatus) in the brochure, and I’d like to introduce it here. But this is my English translation because the original is written in Japanese.

Positive Thinking by Dr. Kenji Ogawa (translated by moshimoshimo)

There is something equal for everyone in human society filled with inequality and unjustness. What is it? Death is certain to come to us all whether you are wealthy and have authority, or not. That is, death is fate we cannot fly from. Nevertheless, we don’t talk about our death much.

Stories about death tend to bear religious overtone, but some people have studied them academically and scientifically. On Death and Dying, written by Elisabeth Kübler-Ross, M.D., who was a female pediatrician in Switzerland and well-known for her seven academic degrees, is described as a bible for medical service workers, especially, for staffers who engages in terminal care.

This book describes what people experience in discrete five stages when they are dying. The author got interviews to 200 patients with terminal cancers to write the book. The progression state in the five stages is as follows:

1. Denial – “I feel fine. This can’t be happening, not to me.”
2. Anger-”Why me? It’s not fair!”
3. Bargaining-”I’ll do anything for a few more years.”
4. Depression-”I’m going to die. What’s the point?”
5. Acceptance-”I can’t fight it, I may as well prepare for it.”

We may see the real meaning of life when we accept that death is inevitable and real.

There is an area of leaning called near-death experience study, in which researchers analyze things during the period of unconsciousness experienced by people who have lost consciousness with cardiac and respiratory arrests, and have been dead medicinally, and then have come to their senses by resuscitation techniques. In Japan, Mr. Takashi Tachibana, a journalist, has written Near-Death Experience, and NHK has televised a feature program of the book. In addition, Dr. Koichi Mori, an internal medicine specialist, has told his own near-death experience in his book.

You may have seen some scenes of near-death experience on TV or screens. There’re some common points in near-death experiences.

1. Tunnel Experience-A sense of moving through a dark passageway
2. Light Experience-A sudden immersion in a powerful light
3. Out-of-Body Experience-A perception of your body from an outside position
4. A Sense of Peace-Understanding your whole life and having a sense of relief
5. Talk to the Dead-Talking to someone dead whom you know
6. After-Effects-Losing fear for death, changing concept of value

I’m interested in especially after-effects from above. We may see what is the most important in life when we have to face the death really even if we are not in terminal state Dr. Ross has presented. People who have near-death experiences often say, “I keenly felt the importance of life by my near-death experience. I’d just spent every day without thinking anything before, but now I know each day is really important and try to live a full life. We don’t know when death comes to us, but it’s certainly to come someday. So, I live fully not to regret my life when the day comes to me. I used to try to avoid or run away from suffering or bitterness. But now I think I can deal with problems I should solve in this life. As a result of the experience, I enjoy fulfilling life.”

We might be able to make our life richer if we tried to see death seriously. I’m going to be conscious of my own life and death, and I’d like to engage with positive thinking as a health worker.

What do you think after reading the article? I get interested in near-death experience and thinking of my own death. Death comes to us all. We can’t fight it forever. Let’s live life to the full!

On Death and Dying
Near-Death Experiences: Exploring the Mind-Body Connection

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