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Question 1: Healing concept in The Death of Ivan Ilyich

In the novel The Death of Ivan Ilyich by Leo Tolstoy, we see the concept of a healing environment when Gerasim provides comfort to his dying friend Ivan. He sat with him the whole night and Tolstoy describes him as, “the only one who did not lie: everything that he did portray that he alone understood what was happening. He did not see the need to conceal it (Tolstoy, 123).”  Therefore, the relationship was a comfort to him. Thus comfort is a crucial aspect of a healing environment. Another concept of a healing environment is to show passion and love to a sick person. The novel by Tolstoy shows that Ivan did not receive the compassion and love from his family members because he had not focused on creating a family relationship with his wife and children.

His life goal was to provide his family with material needs only. At the time of his death bed no family member was present to show him love and compassion but only Gerasim, who held his legs and helped Ivan, share his pain. Love and compassion are a virtue of authentic life and a healing environment. Lastly is the concept of helping patients attain their spiritual, mental and physical healing. As Ivan deals with his death, he has to start seeing his outer and inner life. The author displays human existence as being a confrontation between two forces the outer and inner forces. He gradually begins to realize the importance of spiritual life which helps him to understand the differences of spiritual and physical existence. Thus, the phenomenon of diseases and illness in the Christian worldview is that the spiritual life is the most important than the physical life that enables one to move beyond suffering to conquering death and experiencing extreme joy.

I have been in a near death experience. Like all the dying persons I felt I was easily reduced to the “thing hood” by individuals who cannot bear to deal with the disability and suffering of those they love. My family members created detachment that is a form of defense by withdrawing their affection, contact and care which contributed to my de humanization. My will was to live and prove to them that they should not avoid those who are near death experience. Thus to bring about dignity in dying, there is the need for continued care and treatment as well as the creation of a healing environment to the very end of the person’s life as seen in the case of Gerasim in The Death of Ivan Ilych, who was there for Ivan all the way.

QUESTION 2; Imago Dei and Healing

The Imago Dei is a theological concept of Christianity, Sufi Islam, and Judaism that refer to the fact that all humans have the image of God. It means caring for a sick person should be top the very end as a person created in the likeness and image of God (Dennis, 2007). The concept’s introduction was when diseases epidemic struck the ancient world, and the pagan city officials were offering their god’s lots of gifts but nothing to the sick, dying and suffering. No one was responsible for caring for the suffering, and they became a huge burden to their families. They were left out to die. Early Christians did not see this as a tolerable act. They established groups to care for the sick. These early Christina philanthropists established the imago Dei as a theological concept that championed the fact that all humans are created in the likeness of God. The concept is crucial since it is a belief that instilled in us the responsibility of caring for others since we are all worth of being treated as humans. The concept enhanced the human rights in the society whereby all members can receive the same benefits. It is a concept that demonstrates solidarity with the poor, and suffering in the society.



Dennis, W., (2007) What Is Death with Dignity? Reflections on the Sacredness of Life. Ethics and Medics, July, vol. 32, no. 7

Tolstoy L (1960). The Death of Ivan Ilych and Stories. London: Penguin Books, 1960.

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