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Metaphors for ‘good’ and ‘bad’ deaths: A health professional view

Demjen, Zsofia; Semino, Elena and Koller, Veronika (2016). Metaphors for ‘good’ and ‘bad’ deaths: A health professional view. Metaphor and the Social World, 6(1) pp. 1–19.

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This paper discusses the metaphors used by sixteen palliative healthcare professionals from around the United Kingdom in semi-structured interviews to describe what they see as ‘good’ and ‘bad’ deaths. e interviews, conducted for the large-scale “Metaphor in End-of-Life Care” project, are set against the background of contemporary practices and discourses around end-of-life care, dying and quality of death. To date, the use of metaphor in descriptions of different types of deaths has not received much attention. Applying the Metaphor Identification Procedure (Pragglejaz Group, 2007) we find that the difference between good and bad deaths is partly expressed via different frequencies of contrasting metaphors, such as ‘peacefulness’ and ‘openness’ as opposed to ‘struggle’ and ‘pushing away’ professional help. We show how metaphors are used to: evaluate deaths and the dying; justify those evaluations; present a remarkably consistent view of different types of deaths; and promote a particular ‘framing’ of a good death, which is closely linked with the dominant sociocultural and professional contexts of our interviewees. We discuss the implications of these consistent evaluations and framings in broader end-of-life care contexts, and reflect on the significance of our findings for the role of metaphor in communication about sensitive experiences.

Item Type: Journal Item
Copyright Holders: 2016 John Benjamins
ISSN: 2210-4097
Project Funding Details:
Funded Project NameProject IDFunding Body
Metaphor in End-of-Life CareES/J007927/1ESRC
Keywords: end-of-life care; death and dying; metaphor; good death; medical communication; hospices
Academic Unit/School: Faculty of Wellbeing, Education and Language Studies (WELS) > Languages and Applied Linguistics
Faculty of Wellbeing, Education and Language Studies (WELS)
Research Group: Language & Literacies
Item ID: 46112
Depositing User: Zsofia Demjen
Date Deposited: 20 Apr 2016 11:16
Last Modified: 11 May 2018 12:35
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