GERO 406 Death and Dying

Instructor: Dr. S. Koehn


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:

"This course will address contemporary issues as they pertain to the psychosocial aspects of individuals and families living with life-threatening illness and/or the death of a family member, with a focus on older adults. It will be of particular value to caregivers of the terminally ill and of older adults in long-term care. However, it challenges all of us to think more critically about issues commonly encountered in, and often sensationalized by, the media. Topics of enquiry include but are not limited to advance directives and living wills, the right to die/physician-assisted suicide, palliative care and hospice, dying at home vs. an institution, life-sustaining technology and DNR orders, burial rites, the meaning of death and the afterlife, and grief and bereavement. Considerations of ethnicity, class, gender, sexual orientation, stigma and cultural values will be explored." For more information see GERO 406's  Canvas page or course page.

See also Dr. Koehn's database of citations and scoping review folder, linked from her Biography page.


Other titles:

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Journal articles

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

A major journal in the area is: Omega: journal of death and dying, which can be read online back to 1999. In addition, there is browsing the SFU Gerontology and Aging e-journals list.

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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 Books and Web sites


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)


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)

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Web sites

Palliative Care and Hospice Associations:

Style Guides

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

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