Pretend to Die

Pretend to DiePaper details:

One of the fun assignments in this course is to die. I mean, of course, to pretend to die. You will each be assigned a disease that people commonly die of within a span of a few months. You will pretend that you are dying of that disease during this semester and you will keep a journal about what it’s like to die.

Hopefully, this will help you get the feel of what it’s like to die – to walk in the shoes of a person with a terminal illness and develop genuine empathy (not just sympathy) for those who are dying. What we’re aiming for here is an emotional, not just an intellectual, understanding of what dying people experience.

This exercise is worthwhile only to the extent that you “get into it”. If you don’t put yourself into it, pretend that it’s real, and do some real work trying to get inside the head of a person with that disease, you won’t get much out of it, but if you try, you will be rewarded with a deep understanding of what dying people need.

Your journal should continue your thoughts and feelings about what it’s like to:

hear your diagnosis
try to understand what this disease means
come to grips with your likely future
endure the treatments and the side-effects of treatments
experience the disease process
feel what it’s like to relate your your family and friends as a dying person
and, ultimately, to come to the end of the road and surrender yourself to dying
You should write in your journal regularly – daily would be good, weekly would be an absolute minimum and it had better be rich. Keep your journal in a (Word, or something similar) document file that you can upload to Canvas at the end of the semester for me to read and grade. Journals are kept strictly confidential by me so you don’t need to worry about sharing personal information.

Your journal will be graded on my perception of how deeply you got into it, how hard you tried, and what evidence the journal gives that you learned something from the assignment.

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