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A Good Death is A Peaceful Death


Updated: November 9, 2006

Considering a Good Death in Ghana

Sjaak van der Geest Professor of Medical Anthropology at the University of Amsterdam studied what residents in Kwahu-Tafo, a rural town in Southern Ghana, considered to be a Good Death.

For the Southern Ghanaians the characteristics of a Good Death included:

  • A good death was a peaceful death.
  • "Peaceful" in this community meant:
    • The dying person had finished up all of his or her business.
    • The dying person had made peace with others before his or her death.
    • The dying person was at peace with his or her own death.

  • A good death is one that does not occurs as a result of:
    • Violence
    • Accident
    • Fearsome disease
    • Foul means (play)

  • A good death is one that occurs without much pain.
  • A good death comes naturally after a long and well-spent life.
  • A good death takes place in the home, surrounded by children and grandchildren.
  • A good death is a death which is accepted by the relatives.

For these residents of this rural community in Ghana the epitome of a Good Death is a peaceful one that occurs at home, surrounded by children and grandchildren.

Common Requirements of a Good Death
Their requirements of a Good Death are very similar to those wished for by people in the United States, or in the United Kingdom. Perhaps there are some common characteristics of a good death that defy many cultural and national boundaries.

Van der Geest, S. Dying peacefully: considering good death and bad death in Kwahu-Tafo, Ghana. Social science & medicine 58:55, 899-911. March 2004. 8 November 2006.

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