• Summary
  • Contents
  • Subject index

Dying is a social as well as physiological phenomenon. Each society characterizes and, consequently, treats death and dying in its own individual ways—ways that differ markedly. These particular patterns of death and dying engender modal cultural responses, and such institutionalized behavior has familiar, economical, educational, religious, and political implications. The Handbook of Death and Dying takes stock of the vast literature in the field.

Historical Changes in the Meaning of Death in the Western Tradition
Historical changes in the meaning of death in the Western tradition

To speak of a single death is to speak biographically. In the deaths of others and in the recognition of our own mortality, death cultivates the creation of stories that testify to the quality of life lived as well as to the relative manner of death itself. To hear that one lived a good life is to combat the nonsensical specter that haunts the modernbios.

In some sense, death has always haunted the living. Biography underscores, in particular, a modern proclivity toward individual narrative—death as the last unavoidable chapter of an otherwise fulfilling life, death as the thief of the devoted husband, death as the ...

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