Critical incidents in the timing of the moment of death

1990 1990

Other formats: Order a copy

Abstract (summary)

To determine what might be involved in a dying person's ability to control the timing of death, retrospective interviews were held with family members of patients who reportedly died under one of two circumstances: death was delayed until an event of some emotional significance occurred, or it was hastened after such an event occurred. Twenty such cases were investigated, involving the deaths of 10 men and 10 women with a mean age of 70.5 years. The psychological autopsy method (Shneidman, 1969; Weisman \& Kastenbaum, 1968; Weisman, 1974) was used to structure the one to one and a half hour interviews, conducted by the researcher, a marriage and family counselor with eight years of hospice experience. Ten of the subjects interviewed were spouses of the person who died and ten were children. In half of the cases a second family member was also interviewed. Transcripts of the interviews were the basic data of the study. The critical incident technique (Flanagan, 1954; Dachelet, et al, 1981; Woolsey, 1986) was used to identify and categorize those events which were deemed crucial by the family to the delaying or hastening of death. One hundred and fifty-nine incidents were identified under four headings: (1)~Bringing Life to Conclusion, (2)~Releasing Relational Bonds, (3)~Opening to Death, and (4)~Relating to the Process of Dying. Incidents were also categorized according to how close to the moment of death they occurred. Events of an interpersonal nature, having to do with the relationship between the dying person and his or her family and friends, made up 55\% of the total number of events and accounted for 81\% of those that occurred in the last 24 hours of life. These interpersonal incidents, particularly the arrival of children at the family home, seemed to have the most potent affect on influencing the timing of death. Given that acceptance of death is an appropriate developmental phase of the dying process (K\"ubler-Ross, 1975; Pattison, 1978), the results of this study offer ways in which family members and caregivers can support and even influence the transition from holding on to life to letting go toward death.

Indexing (details)

Social psychology;
0451: Social psychology
0349: Psychobiology
Identifier / keyword
Psychology; Death
Critical incidents in the timing of the moment of death
Mineau, David Leon
Number of pages
Publication year
Degree date
School code
DAI-B 67/02, Dissertation Abstracts International
Place of publication
Ann Arbor
Country of publication
United States
9780542584879, 0542584875
Hastings, Arthur
Institute of Transpersonal Psychology
University location
United States -- California
Source type
Dissertations & Theses
Document type
Dissertation/thesis number
ProQuest document ID
Database copyright ProQuest LLC; ProQuest does not claim copyright in the individual underlying works.
Document URL
Access the complete full text

You can get the full text of this document if it is part of your institution's ProQuest subscription.

Try one of the following:

  • Connect to ProQuest through your library network and search for the document from there.
  • Request the document from your library.
  • Go to the ProQuest login page and enter a ProQuest or My Research username / password.