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FOR THOSE WHO MOURN: Moving Beyond Kubler-Ross to Current Perspectives on Dying and Grieving, Mary Ann Melpolder

  • Friday, November 11, 2016
  • 7:30 PM - 9:00 PM
  • The Library at the Jung Society, 5200 Cathedral Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20016
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Friday, November 11th


An Evening With...


Mary Ann Melpolder

Dr. Elisabeth Kübler-Ross was a pioneer in modern Western medicine’s understanding of the experiences of the dying.  She created her five-stage model (denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance) as a way of formulating the reactions of those facing a terminal illness.  Her ideas were later taken as a proscriptive model for how both the dying and the bereaved ought to feel and act.  Unfortunately, such a model does not capture the reality of what mourners actually experience, and it leaves people woefully unprepared for dealing with a significant loss.  Adding to this problem is the collective loss of knowledge held by previous generations, who were intimately familiar with death because it occurred frequently and at every stage of the life cycle.  The high standards of living and advanced medical care that have greatly lowered our current mortality rates have also left us ignorant about how to cope with death when it does strike. 

            The relatively new field of Thanatology (the study of death, dying, and bereavement) offers new perspectives and concepts that deepen our understanding of what it means to cope with dying and bereavement.  This evening we will explore topics that include experiences of the dying at the very end of life (nearing-death awareness, terminal lucidity, and the use of metaphoric language); multiple factors that impact bereavement; different ways that people experience and express grief; current models of bereavement; and research on survival of consciousness and after-death communication. 


Mary Ann Melpolder has had a life-long interest in death, dying, bereavement, and consciousness. She holds Master’s degrees in Thanatology from Hood College and in American Studies with a focus on warfare from the University of Maryland.  She served for two years as a hospice volunteer with Montgomery Hospice, working with the dying and their families both in their homes and at the in-patient facility, Casey House.  She is a member of the Association for Death, Education, and Counseling, and the International Association of Near-Death Studies.  She has extensively studied near-death experiences, nearing-death awareness, and the evidence for after-death communication.

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