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Why Do Dying People And Their Carers Find Uncertainty Difficult And What Could Be Done To Help?

1880 words - 8 pages

This assignment will firstly define the term uncertainty in the context of dying. It will identify the emotions which people experience when living with uncertainty and look at the reasons why dying people and their carers find this difficult. The term carers will be defined and the carers' position in context to the dying person will be discussed. Secondly this assignment will look at ways in which to minimise or prevent uncertainty within the caring field.

Uncertainty is defined as not knowing accurately (Webster English Dictionary, 1999). It is not being confident or sure of something. A person encounters uncertainty when they are diagnosed with an illness or condition, such as Alzheimer's disease, Huntington's disease, Cancer or H.I.V. Also when a parent has a genetically passed condition, the offspring may live with uncertainty of whether or not they too are going to get the condition. The uncertainty occurs when the patient, carer or relative has little knowledge about the condition, thus creating fear.

The fear that lack of knowledge can create can affect an individuals well being. For example, if a person has been told that they have an illness or condition, they may hide the problem away from the public and become isolated. An illustration of this can be seen in the case study of Lez, who suffers from kidney failure. He explains that he feels "...stigmatized in certain situations..." (AC 3, Side 1).
Because Lez feels this shame in public he pretends that he is well and tends to go to places where people know him. However, some people put on a social mask when they are with family and friends; this is to hide the truth away so as to avoid unwanted reactions from anyone. Suffering in silence like this can lead to mental illnesses such as depression which is sometimes associated with uncertainty (The Lab, 2005). Although Lez confides in his wife and she plays a part in his care, the one thing he fears most is loosing his wife before he dies as there will be no one to care for him.

Other fears that heighten uncertainty are related to the persons appearance. They may be concerned as to whether they are going to loose their hair because of chemotherapy treatment or develop skin lesions as a side effect of their illness. A person may fear pain, which they may get as a result of their illness or public humiliation when confined to a wheelchair. Clare Williams (1991) lives with uncertainty and she fears peoples reactions if they were to find out that she has H.I.V. She is uncertain how to tell people about her condition and hides it away from those who are closest to her.

"...My family still have no idea..." (p. 212).

Some of the other emotions which a person can experience when dealing with uncertainty are that of feeling alone or not in charge of their own body. Griffiths (2004) explains that when a person is diagnosed with cancer, they can often feel vulnerable. He also suggests that the fear and anxiety that people...

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