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A figurational approach: views of communication and awareness of death and dying in Ireland

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  • Communication


Open awareness and communication in death and dying have become important aspects in caring for people who are terminally ill. This change began in the 1960s and has been driven by social and ideological factors, especially in highly individualistic societies such as the US and the UK. While this is the preferred interaction within palliative care, open awareness and communication about death and dying can be resisted in some societies where families seek to protect their relative from the truth of a terminal illness. This article considers some attitudes to open awareness and communication in Ireland from recent research and a popular radio talk programme. This suggests that while there is openness about issues of mortality in Ireland, there can be resistance when terminal illness becomes a reality within a family. Elias's figurational approach is utilised to understand these differing responses.

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