• 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.

The Taoist (Chinese) Way of Death
The Taoist (Chinese) way of death

The most important thing in life is to be buried well,” is an old Chinese adage that reflects the importance of funerals in traditional Chinese culture. Funerals are the most important life passage ritual, surpassing weddings and birthdays in priority, expense, and significance. For the Chinese, death means becoming either an ancestor who has a continued relationship with its family or a ghost that endangers society. In either case, the spirit or soul exists to have an interactive relationship with the living. Because ancestor reverence is the cornerstone of Chinese cultural belief and social structure, death rituals are of serious concern and are the most important of Chinese religious practices. With death, a family ...

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