• 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.

Social Dimensions of Grief
Social dimensions of grief

The complex experience of grief has been studied extensively as an individual phenomenon. The psychological literature has focused primarily on describing grief as a personal process and on offering the bereaved guidance to make sense of the loss and to resolve the grief. More recent sociological interest has focused on how the experience of grief is shaped by social factors, such as relationships with the deceased, social support, religious beliefs, age, gender, race, ethnicity, class, and the circumstances of death.

This chapter discusses grief as an individual and a collective socially sanctioned experience. It also examines the experience of grief as influenced by the meaning assigned to death, its circumstances, and the relationships mourners had with the deceased. In ...

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