Death Competency: Bugen's Coping with Death Scale and Death Self-Efficacy
Both the professional (Lonetto & Templer, 1986; Schulz, 1978) and popular (Becker, 1973) literatures on death concern have dealt almost entirely with death anxiety and fear of death. Although it is indisputable that humans fear death at least sometimes in their lives, it is not certain what an understanding of this fear will provide in dealing with the reality of our existential condition. Might it not be more useful to note that humans also cope with death, and have done so in their own sometimes bungling ways since time immemorial? In American culture, it is often health care providers who must not only cope with death themselves on a daily basis, but also assist patients and their loved ones in coping with it. Kubler-Ross (1969) described normal reactions to death in terminal patients and their families and showed that health care professionals can help these individuals by understanding their experiences (whether or not they occur in stages). Her efforts were aimed at teaching professionals who deal with dying patients how to be effective in the face of the emotional and physical processes that precede death. Since Kubler-Ross first drew our attention to this issue, some headway has been made in dealing with dying patients.