• 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.

Impromptu Memorials to the Dead
Impromptu memorials to the dead

Impromptu memorials to the deceased have become a common feature of the national and international landscape. They take many forms and represent various types of deaths; nonetheless, they have in common the expression of mourning for the deceased, regardless of whether or not the mourner personally knew the deceased.

The site of the impromptu memorial may be located by the roadside, as in the case of a motor vehicle fatality, or outside an apartment entrance, as in the case following the deaths of John F. Kennedy, Jr., wife Carolyn, and sister-inlaw Lauren Bessette, who died in a plane crash on July 16, 1999. In many cases, the artifacts left at the memorial may include crosses and flowers ...

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