Jeanne Denney
basket weave

Kinds of Death / Ways of Dying

Here is a list of a few types of death. Read them and notice your responses to each type of death. Which one do you want? What is tolerable and intolerable?

  1. Cellular or Organ Death – The Death of individual cells, organs or tissues in the body. There are two kinds or cell death: Apaptosis(healthy) and Necrosis (Unhealthy). Organ death may or may not compromise the health of the larger body.
  2. Death of Ego and Identity - Psychological death. May include shifts in conscious ideas about the self and social role. This kind of death is a part of all processes of growth, change and personal transformation. Bereaved people are generally, though not always, going through this kind of death.
  3. Timely or welcome bodily death at end of a long life. This death may result at the end of a long but dwindling life. There is usually increasing fragility and possible dependency. Often termed “Debility and Decline”. These deaths are least likely to occur at home. About 45 percent of deaths over 85 are in hospitals and 39 percent in nursing homes. Of these, most nursing home deaths are women (around 2 to 1). We may or may not be fully coherent as we know ourselves now in this process: dementia, alzheimers, neurological disorders can all be present to impair our ability to fully express our wishes. This passage likely includes dealing with physical or mental incapacity and dependency on others. This decline often prepares us well for acceptance of death.
  4. Prolonged untimely death through disease or other degenerative processes. These slow processes can be painful, but allow time to integrate the facts of our dying. If we are able to grieve our losses one by one and choose not to be in denial of impending death we have much opportunity to bring closure to relationships and to work on our passage with support. This passage may include questions about the processes of healing, much life review, and may also include dealing with physical incapacity and dependency on others. (Tuesdays with Morie is an example).
  5. Sudden or Untimely Death due to natural causes – In this death we are largely unconscious that we are dying, or only have a few moments to get used to the idea. We are unable to complete relationships or affairs consciously. Accidents, falls, anurisms, embolisms, massive heart attacks, dying in sleep or through medical procedures all fall into this category.
  6. War/Combat - Valiant Death - In these deaths there is at least some support for facing violent death and usually a sense that you have chosen to be in the situation (unless there you are at war because of the draft and have no sense of commitment to a cause). Though there is probably trauma, a sense of unity with others and service to your country may be a part of this death.
  7. Suicide - This may be a tragic death if accompanied by depression and mental unrest. In the cases of “hastened death” or “death with dignity” it may also be a very conscious act that is part of a long healing and closure with others.
  8. Violent Deaths- Untimely deaths due to murder, battery, terrorism, animal attacks etc. This type of death will likely include trauma and may include a sense of profound shock at the darkness of humanity, and disillusionment with God.