Nursing Education

Nurses spend more time with patients who are facing the end of life (EOL) than any other member of the health care team. In hospice, nurses have been recognized as the cornerstone of palliative care, and it is increasingly apparent that nurses play an equally important role in palliative care across all settings.

Nutrition and Exercise

Since the mid-1990s health practitioners, researchers, and scientists have learned that regular exercise and nutritional balance can significantly reduce degenerative diseases associated with aging and extend the human life span. The mechanism by which this occurs involves numerous physiological and biochemical mechanisms.


Humans have always desired to break free from the "custody of time," to shed the anxiety engendered by uncertainty over the time of one's own death. The creation of death omens in nearly all cultures has, perhaps, arisen from a deep-seated yearning to quell this gnawing doubt.

Ontological Confrontation

Human beings have a degree of awareness of personal existence not found among other species. This awareness, the province of ordinary people as much as philosophers and theologians, encompasses the finitude of life, the personal existence of others, the possibility of other worlds, and the questions of when people came into the world, why they are on Earth, and what happens when they die.

Operatic Death

Opera began in the last decades of the sixteenth century in Florence, Italy, when a group of music and drama enthusiasts called the Camerata decided that ancient Greek drama must have been sung throughout. While there is evidence that music played a role in the theater of ancient Greece, this surmise of the Camerata involved a leap of the imagination: What if the words were declaimed as song?

Organ Donation and Transplantation

Since the eighteenth century researchers have been experimenting with organ transplantation on animals and humans. However, the modern era of organ transplantation really began in the 1950s.

Organized Crime

In the pantheon of the American violent antihero, the gangster has occupied an enduring price of place second only to the cowboy; both have enjoyed the distinction of inspiring an entire genre of popular music. Whether the cinematic iconography is that of the loyal family operative—The Godfather (1972)—or the brutal sadist—The Untouchables (1987)—the adventure, violence, and bloodshed of the American gangster continues to grip the imagination of the world.


Orpheus, according to Greek myth, is one of the few who descended into Hell and lived to tell about it. The son of Oeagrus (King of Thrace) and the muse Calliope, he is famous for his musical and poetic gifts inherited from Apollo and the Muses.


In Ancient Egyptian mythology, Osiris was the god of the beyond whose death and resurrection brought a guarantee of an afterlife to mortals. He was a kindly Pharaoh, teaching agriculture, music, arts, and religion to his people.

Pain and Pain Management

In June 2001 a California jury awarded $1.5 million to the family of a terminally ill eighty-five-year-old man, finding the doctor liable for elder abuse and reckless negligence because he had failed to order appropriate pain medication. This court judgment brought the issue of pain control for the terminally ill into sharper focus.

Persistent Vegetative State

Individuals in persistent and permanent vegetative states (both called PVS) are not dead, although philosophers still debate whether they are "people." Their brains still function at a very rudimentary level; they have sleep-wake cycles; and they normally can breathe without assistance. According to the American Academy of Neurology, about 10,000 to 25,000 PVS individuals exist in the United States at any one time.

Personifications of Death

Visitors to the Church of St. Nicholas in Tallinn, Estonia, will recall the representation of death as a bony, dark figure with a skull, as depicted in Bernt Notke's famous canvas, Danse Macabre (c.

Philosophy, Western

"The hour of departure has arrived, and we go our own ways—I to die, and you to live. Which is better God only knows" (Edman 1930, p.

Phoenix, the

In ancient Greek and Egyptian mythology, the phoenix is a mythical bird associated with the Egyptian sun god Ra and the Greek god Phoibos Apollo. The bird symbolizes resurrection and immortality and has retained its symbolic connotation of life arising anew from the ashes of death.


The poet Ralph Waldo Emerson once remarked, "Plato is philosophy and philosophy is Plato" (Emerson 1996, p. 21).


Plotinus was attracted to the Platonic metaphysics of transcendence; that is, the location of reality outside of this physical, sensory world, in a suprarational, spiritual world of the "Good." Plotinus used religious/mystical phrases to refer to this reality, such as "the One," "All-Transcending," "Author at once of Being," "The First," and the "Indefinable." His religious views have typically been described as pantheistic, which holds that the divine principle is present in and throughout the entire universe, although a dualistic representation (where the divine and the created universe are seen as separate) could also be supported, given the subtleties of Neoplatonic thought.

Polynesian Religions

In treating all subjects, including death, Polynesian religions are based on experience rather than faith. Prominent among those experiences are encounters with many different types of gods and spirits.

Population Growth

Population growth refers to change in the size of a population—which can be either positive or negative—over time, depending on the balance of births and deaths. If there are many deaths, the world's population will grow very slowly or can even decline.


Protestantism is the collective term applied to Christian denominations originating in groups that separated from the Roman Catholic Church in Europe's sixteenth-century Reformation. Reformers challenged the Church's manipulation of concerns about death and destiny to achieve temporal power and raise revenue.


For much of its 125-year history, psychology, the study of human behavior, could not find a place for death and dying among the topics that it considered worthy of scientific attention. Although psychology was derived from philosophy, a system that gives death a central role in shaping human thought and conduct, early on there was a schism between those who wanted to study behavior from an experimental, physiological perspective and those who wanted to keep a broader, person-based focus.

Public Health

Public health services can prevent premature death from epidemics such as the plague, cholera, and many other infectious and environmentally determined diseases; and enhance the quality of life. Public health is among the most important institutions of organized societies, almost entirely responsible for the immense improvements in life expectancy everywhere in the world in the past 150 years.


From the third century onward, Christian theologians developed a theory of psychic postdeath purification on the basis of the words of St. Paul: "Fire shall try every person's work." He continues by saying that those who have built their lives upon shoddy foundations "shall be saved, yet saved through fire" (1 Cor.