• 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.

Black Funeralization and Culturally Grounded Services
Black funeralization and culturally grounded services

The Black experience in America has been that of pathos. Slavery, degradation, brutality, segregation, discrimination, deprivation, poverty, and violence have all affected the Black perspective. For much of the 20th century, Black mortality rates have been higher than that for Whites; Blacks die younger than Whites; African American infant mortality rates are much higher than Whites; and Blacks are more likely than Whites to die violently from homicide. Death is no stranger to the African American community. As Kalish and Reynolds (1981) phrased it, “To be Black in America is to be part of a history told in terms of contact with death and coping with death” (p. 103). As Jackson (1972) reflects,

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