Dying as a Stoic: How Stoicism Brings Peace to Death and Grieving Open Access

Chamoun, Joseph (Spring 2023)

Permanent URL: https://etd.library.emory.edu/concern/etds/qr46r230d?locale=en


Death and dying present enormous hardships for all parties involved. This includes the physician, the patient, and the family. The stoic thinkers Marcus Aurelius, Seneca, and Epictetus each offer aid to the affected parties. This thesis sets out to examine how stoicism offers relief and growth in the face of death. This discussion is rooted primarily in stoic thought, though clinical and sociological research is also included; the end goal being a “toolkit” of sorts that has the potential to be explored further in the fields of medicine and sociology. Along these lines, my hope is for this thesis to be grounded in pragmatism, offering real aid to those navigating death. There are three chapters in this thesis, the first focusing on how death is treated in America as well as how stoicism may offer relief to physicians making difficult decisions regarding terminal patients. The second chapter discusses the applicability of stoic thought to the patient themselves. In this case, stoicism offers not only comfort but also freedom and even growth. The third and final chapter covers the bereaved and the grieving process. Stoicism empowers family and friends to live alongside their grief as they honor their late loved one and pursue a healthy, fulfilling life. By the end of this project, one will hopefully see stoicism not as “cold” and distant, but rather as a philosophy of patience and kindness towards others and ourselves.

Table of Contents

Chapter I: Stoicism, End of Life Care, and The Physician 1


Chapter II: The Patient 13


Chapter III: Family and Friends 32


Conclusion 42

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