GERO 406 Death and Dying

Instructor: J. Barry Worsfold, M.S.W., Dip. Gerontology.


This web page is intended to help you find information for the GERO 406 assignments. For further assistance, ask at the Belzberg Library Reference Desk or contact Nina Smart, Liaison Librarian for Gerontology (778.782.5051 or ) Monday to Thursday.

Course Description and Introduction:

  The course is of special interest to both caregivers for the terminally ill and caregivers for the institutionalized elderly. GERO 406 focuses on understanding issues around death and dying, including philosophical, religious, social, and psychological concerns. Topics include hospice care, dying at home versus dying in an institution, multicultural issues, and ethical issues facing families and professional caregivers as terminally ill individuals enter the “dying trajectory.” For more information see GERO 406's  Canvas page.


Dying and death in Canada  BF 789 D4 N67 2008 The 2001 edition is available online
Death: Current Perspectives BF 789 D4 D38 1995
Death, Grief, and Caring Relationships HQ 1073 K34 1985
What Dying People Want: Practical Wisdom for the End of Life BF 789 D4 K834 2002

Students can view video clips of National Film Board titles such as "Griefwalker", "Afterlife" or "The Street" through
PBS also has useful video titles such as "The Undertaking" (or browse by topic such as Health and Wellness/Aging)

Note: Students are expected to read articles and papers of their choice in addition to the required reading.

available online from 1999 onwards

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Students must choose a book from the bibliography below. If the book does not have a call number beside it, it is not at SFU, so check at your local library (you can search other library catalogues).

Useful sites:


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Subject of paper to be chosen by student. Approval of subject must be obtained from instructor. Format of paper is formal and all references noted appropriately. It is suggested that the student follow the Citation Guide: APA. Plagiarism is not acceptable and will result in a failing grade. (Please refer to the SFU Library Plagiarism guide.)

  • Start Your Research Here "gives you an overview of the research process and includes some ideas of where to look for information. Remember that careful research takes time and creativity." SFU Library guide 
  • "How to Research a Term Paper in Gerontology" the full guide is a chapter (or an appendix, depending on the edition) of Harry Moody's Aging: concepts and controversies, HQ 1064 U5 M665 (several editions)
  • Outlines: see Purdue OWL's Why and How to Create a Useful Outline and Sample Outlines

Background information

  • Encyclopedia of death and dying HQ 1073 E543 2001 "rich and fascinating articles on all aspects of death and dying. Arranged alphabetically by subject, each entry is signed and includes references and suggestions for further reading."
  • Encyclopedia of philosophy B 41 E5 "the highest achievement of 20th century philosophy: Over 4,200 pages, over 1500 contributors"
  • Handbook of family resilience See part 4: Resilience, Loss and Grief
  • Macmillan encyclopedia of death and dying also in print HQ 1073 M33 2002  "a contribution to the understanding of life." Entries include bibliographies.
  • Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy also in print B 51 R68 1998 "a multicultural affair with over 2,000 individual provide a sophisticated yet accessible intellectual primer that requires only a willingness to learn."
  • Wikipedia entries often have useful sections on external links (for example, the Suicide entry)


Check the library catalogue to find materials at the SFU Library, under subjects such as:

Journal articles

To find scholarly articles on your topic, start with these indexes:

Many of the required and suggested readings come from: Omega: journal of death and dying, which can be read online back to 1999. British Journal of Social Work is also available online.  In addition, there is browsing the SFU Gerontology and Aging e-journals list.

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Conduct a structured field interview with an individual who works closely with those who are terminally ill or who have recently died.
Compare the actual experience of the individual chosen with what you have been studying in the literature.
Talk, with some comfort, about dying and death from your own perspective.
During the interview your task is to find out about the individual’s work in the field of dying and death. You want to understand how this work is relevant to the study of death and dying among the elderly.

  • General Guidelines for Conducting Interviews from the Free Management Library "easy-to-access, clutter-free, comprehensive resources regarding the leadership and management of yourself, other individuals, groups and organizations"
  • Field Research: Conducting an Interview  from Purdue University Writing Lab 
  • The professional stranger : an informal introduction to ethnography  GN 346 A42  has a useful chapter on fieldwork and conducting interviews
  • The practice of social research H 62 B2 2001a has a chapter on Field Research
  • Handbook of interview research : context & methods  H 61.28 H36 2002 good to look through, e.g. "Interviewing Older People"


To be received by the Instructor in the last week of the course-either handed to the Instructor at the last class or e-mailed by Friday of the last week of classroom instruction.

This log should be started at the beginning of the course and is your own personal journal in which you keep your thoughts and key learning points as you progress through the course. It is intended to be both personal and experiential. While completing the log, students are asked to consider the following:

  • In what ways has the course (presentation and readings, discussion and assignments) influenced your thinking about death and dying?
  • Did you have any emotional responses to end of life issues in this course?
  • What questions do you have about your learning experience in this course?
  • How would you apply your learning in this course to working with elderly people who are dying?

The log therefore is to contain personal reactions and to be also reflective of the course content. Please quote specific course references in the log. The Instructor will be the only person reviewing the logs. Grading on this assignment is based on the quality of the reflective and integrative process.

Useful sites:

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Useful Web sites

Palliative Care Associations

Style Guides

For citing research in your footnotes and bibliographies, refer to the following:  

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