Is There Really Life After Death?

30/09/16 Note: More content has been added to the post to make the post longer and to support my argument more. I have also added more references and media to the post to help strengthen my content. After proof reading the post, I have made the necessary grammatical changes and spell checks.



We all experience that uneasy, unpleasant feeling that cripples us, that feeling called fear. Mine is death and loss. The whole concept of death freaks me out, I cringe at the thought of it and I tend to dread the topic. Death, which according to Merriam-Webster. (n.d.),  is defined as the end of life is an inevitable aspect of the human condition. As human being, death is something we all have to go through or deal with at some point. As a physio student, however, death is something we deal with more often than we wish. Getting into physio, I knew having one of my patients die was something that was going to happen at some point. Even though I knew this, one can never prepare themselves for such occurrences. I imagined losing a patient would be quite saddening but didn’t know how painful it would be until I experienced it.

When working with patients, I tend to develop some form of attachment to some of my patients depending on how much time I have spent with them and their personalities. Losing a patient can be quite saddening but to be honest, it usually does not affect me that much. This changed when I on my 3rd block last year. Mr X was not the first patient of mine to die. He was, however, the first patient I had become very close with to die.

“Molo Ntombam” (hello my daughter), those were the words Mr X would say to me every time I went to see him in his ward for treatment. He was the first patient I saw every morning because he somehow knew how to brighten up my day.  His charisma, sense of humour and overall personality drew me closer to him. He often told me how I reminded him of his daughter and how smart he thought I was. Mr X was a 55 year old male who suffered a right CVA with left sided hemiplegia. Throughout my 3 weeks of working with him, he seemed to be recovering fast plus he said he felt better. He was now able to move from sit to stand compared when I first saw him (couldn’t even roll). I felt that was a great achievement for him and myself.

One morning I walked into Mr X’s ward to find the bed empty with fresh sheets. It never occurred to me that he had died. I remember I went to one of the sisters to ask which ward he had been moved to. It was so devastating to hear that Mr X had passed away the previous day. It was the first time a patient of mine whom I felt really close to die in the hospital, and I cried profusely that night. All I could do was hope he would be fine where ever he was. This experience made me wonder, I there really life after death? Well I hope so.

After this experience, I went on and researched ways of dealing with death and loss. During this process, I came across the 5 stages of grief that were first proposed by Elisabeth Kübler-Ross in her 1969 book On Death and Dying. 

From these stages I learned that, when we experience loss, we spend different lengths of time working through each step and express each stage with different levels of intensity. The five stages of loss do not necessarily occur in any specific order. We often move between stages before achieving a more peaceful acceptance of death. Many of us are not afforded the luxury of time required to achieve this final stage of grief.

Understanding the stages of grief have given me a better understanding of the concept of death and how to deal will death in a professional  manner at a work place. To learn more about the 5 stages of grief, use the link to a you-tube video below.



Death | Definition of Death by Merriam-Webster. (n.d.). Retrieved from

Kübler-Ross, E. (1969). On death and dying.

Whitehead, P. R. (2012). The lived experience of physicians dealing with patient death. BMJ Supportive & Palliative Care4(3), 271-276. doi:10.1136/bmjspcare-2012-000326






























5 Replies to “Is There Really Life After Death?”

  1. Hi Anela,

    I like to think that many people ask themselves the same question each and every day, health professional or not. As a physiotherapy student, I feel that it is important to create a relationship with your patients, but only to a certain extent. Sometimes, this is not possible, as we are human beings and we cannot control our feelings and emotions. However, as a health care professional, we need to try and aim to maintain a professional relationship with our patients. We need to draw a line or barrier to ensure that situations like yours do not affect us on a personal level. Each and every person is different, and everyone handles situations differently, but I try as hard as possible to avoid falling into a situation like yours. These are things that i aim to keep enclosed in my working environment. I try not to take clinical environment situations home with me, as it is not healthy for us as physiotherapy students, mentally.

    I feel that your post was a little bit too short and it was lacking content. You could have added a few more references to back up your personal experience. I suggest that you do not use dictionary references, as they are not as reliable as definitions from a journal article, which has a date. You have also used a lack of media and technology to back up your post. I feel that a YouTube video would have been a good option in terms of your discussed topic. I also found that you are only providing the reader with your own opinion. You are not looking at or stating the alternative point of view for your topic of discussion. Overall, I enjoyed reading this post, as i often find myself asking the same question. I hope this comment assists you and guides you when writing your future blog posts.


  2. I was going to write on this topic but found it to overwhelming at the moment cause it is so complex……. I had a similar experience and it really causes some emotional pain. I personally always find myself establishing a close relationship with my patients and sometimes it’s unintentional but somehow this just happens throughout treatment sessions and it really bothers me when my patients die. To counter the emotional pain I always try to treat my patients to the best of my ability and to assist where I can regarding the patient. This really helps me to deal with the emotions when one of my patients dies cause I know that I tried my best to help my patient. I hope this helps you in some way.

    There is so much discussion and writings on this topic which I feel you could have used to discuss life after death topic which you ended off with saying “you hope there is”.Try and make use of the technology and link your readers to similar discusses on youtube as this will also help broaden your understanding about this topic. Just check you work for minor grammatical errors. I really enjoyed reading this so thank you very much and keep up the good writings.


  3. Hi Anela

    Very sad to hear that one of your patient’s passed away. It is never a good thing after treating and witnessing patients progress throughout.

    I have had a similar incidence where one of my patient’s passed away and hearing the next day about it. Patients that really capture you from and emotional and understanding point somehow always tend to get to me. I also tend to find that most patients that do pass away, I somehow can move pass it fairly easy. But there are those handful of patients that tend to really touch your heart.

    What I can suggest for your next post is maybe provide some evidence as to how clinicians or professions should deal with death in a clinical setting and what help there is for clinician that find it hard to get over a dying patient. You should also make sure your grammatical use is of exceptional standard. May I suggest proof reading by a friend as a way of helping you with this.

    It would also be useful to add some media of some sort to make your blog post a bit more richer in content, which could also capture your reader in emotion to get your point across


  4. Hey anela. Thank you for your post.I love how u wrote this post with so much detail and emotion.I never had this experience before on my clinical blocks but I can imagine having a patient that you have grown close to die and how scary and sad that must have been. Death is a scary thing but as you said we all have to face it oneday.
    Your content was good and indepth however, I do feel like you should have made a clear link between your fear of death, the death of your patient and why u started thinking about life after death? It would have been nice if you unpacked your own values and beliefs and relate it to the concept of death and dying. I feel that you should have provided more information on life after death since it is your topic and explained how it relates to ur situation and how it would influence your beliefs and attitude towards death
    One of your references are not intext in your post.I suggest you look up on the APA referencing style guide.Your writing is good! However you did make a view spelling errors that you need to pay more attention too. You did not state a clear argument but you do encourage others opinion which is good.Good Image choice and overall great post I look forward to reading your other posts


  5. Hi Anela. Thank you for sharing this experience with us. As others have commented, I would have liked to see you take your explorations of the topic a little deeper. For example, how will you deal with this in the future? Do you think the answer is in detachment, as some would suggest, or to actually develop deeper connections with patients? Is death – or the topic of death – something that we should avoid, or should we rather dig deeper and have these conversations with patients? There are many resources you could have referred to, and not only journals, but also poems and art. I would have loved to see some of these ideas integrated with your reflections.


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