Simran Kripalani ’18 CLAS (2018 Falvey Scholar)
Michael Tomko, Associate Professor, Literature (Mentor)
Angela DiBenedetto, Associate Professor, Biology (Mentor)
At Villanova, we often ask ourselves the question: how do you “live a good life?” While it is good to explore what it takes for us to live fulfilling lives, it is equally as important to understand how we can wrestle with the concept of death. In society in general, little to no emphasis has been put on death, let alone dying a “good death.” We are immersed in a death-avoidant culture, and we only give it attention when it impacts us in some way. Due to this phenomenon, I decided to grapple with the issues of death and dying. Was dying a good death possible? If so, what factors play a role in dying a good death? Does all of this change when we are dealing with the death of a child—an untimely death? This thesis is comprised of three parts: a general account of dying a good death and the factors it takes to die a good death, pediatric end-of-life care and dying an early death, and the issues that good health care professionals have to consider in such a situation. After conducting a literature review on the subject and utilizing additional fictional literature to illustrate examples of issues involved in the dying process, I argue that both adults and children are able to die a “good death,” and there are certain factors that can help with this process. Because the death of a child is more nuanced, there are additional things we must consider, such as establishing a legacy and upholding the role of family and loved ones in a child’s death. In the last part of my thesis, I take the help of renown and invested healthcare professionals in understanding how to work with patients in the end-of-life stage, and how we, as healthcare professionals and human beings, can aid in the dying process. I hope to shed light on this important matter in the hopes that the topics of death and dying can, one day, be viewed as more than just a taboo.