Encyclopedia of Death and the Human Experience


Edited by: Clifton D. Bryant & Dennis L. Peck

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    • Editorial Board


      Clifton D. Bryant, Virginia Tech University

      Dennis L. Peck, The University of Alabama

      Associate Editors

      Kelly A. Joyce, College of William & Mary

      Vicki L. Lamb, North Carolina Central University

      Jon K. Reid, Southeastern Oklahoma State University

      Hikaru Suzuki, Singapore Management University

      Michael R. Taylor, Oklahoma State University

      Lee Garth Vigilant, Minnesota State University Moorhead

      Advisory Board Members

      Andrew Bernstein, Lewis and Clark College

      Douglas J. Davies, Durham University

      Lynne Ann DeSpelder, Cabrillo College

      Kenneth J. Doka, College of New Rochelle

      J. C. Upshaw Downs, Georgia State Regional Medical Examiner's Office

      Michael C. Kearl, Trinity University

      Michael R. Leming, St. Olaf College

      John L. McIntosh, Indiana University South Bend

      Robert A. Neimeyer, University of Memphis

      John B. Williamson, Boston College


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      List of Entries

      Reader's Guide

      The Reader's Guide for the Encyclopedia of Death and the Human Experience is provided to assist readers in locating entries on related topics. It organizes entries into 16 general topical categories: (1) Conceptualization of Death, Dying, and the Human Experience; (2) Arts, Media, and Popular Culture; (3) Causes of Death; (4) Coping With Loss and Grief; (5) Cross-Cultural Perspectives; (6) Developmental and Demographic Perspectives; (7) Disposition of the Deceased; (8) Funerals and Death-Related Activities; (9) Legal Matters; (10) Mass Death; (11) Process of Dying; (12) Religion; (13) Rituals, Ceremonies, and Celebrations; (14) Suicide, Euthanasia, and Homicide; (15) Theories and Concepts; and (16) Unworldly Entities and Events. From conceptualization of death and dying to the effects these phenomena have on those who survive, the more than 300 entries represent a range of insightful interdisciplinary topics crafted by international scholars and practitioners. Each topic is intended to provide the reader with insights into the phenomena that influence the social meanings of death and dying as these are created through the institutions that structure and organize the cultural artifacts, rituals, and ceremonies humans create and the symbols that influence the human experience.

      About the Editors

      Clifton D. Bryant is Professor Emeritus of Sociology at Virginia Tech University, where he served from 1972 to 2007. He was Department Head from 1972 to 1982. His teaching and research specialty areas include the sociology of death and dying, deviant behavior, military sociology, and the sociology of work and occupations. During his 47-year career, he enjoyed faculty status at six U.S. colleges and universities and two Southeast Asian universities. He also held Visiting Scientist status at three research institutes. He received his B.A. and M.A. degrees from the University of Mississippi, did advance graduate work at the University of North Carolina (Chapel Hill), and received his Ph.D. degree from Louisiana State University.

      He served as President of the Southern Sociological Society (1978–1979). He was the recipient of the Southern Sociological Society's 2003 Distinguished Contributions to Teaching Award, and in 2007 he received its Distinguished Service Award. He was appointed to the Roll of Honor and received that award in 2009. The Roll of Honor Award is the highest award conferred on a member of the Southern Sociological Society and recognizes a career of distinguished intellectual contribution to sociology.

      He was also president of the Mid-South Sociological Association (1981–1982). He was recipient of the Mid-South Sociological Association's Distinguished Career Award in 1991 and received its Distinguished Book Award in 2001 and in 2004.

      His other reference works include 21st Century Sociology: A Reference Handbook (coedited with Dennis Peck, 2007), the Handbook of Death & Dying (2003), and the Encyclopedia of Criminology and Deviant Behavior (2001). Beyond these reference works, he has authored or edited 11 other books and published articles in many professional journals.

      Dennis L. Peck is Professor Emeritus of Sociology in the College of Arts and Sciences at The University of Alabama. He has authored and coauthored over 50 articles published in refereed journals and over 40 books, monographs, and book chapters. In addition to contributing to the learned literature throughout his career, during the present decade Dr. Peck has served as lead editor in chief of 21st Century Sociology: A Reference Handbook (2007) and was instrumental in the creation of the fourvolume Encyclopedia of Criminology and Deviant Behavior (2001), serving as coeditor of Volume 2 and associate editor for the entire project. In addition, Dr. Peck was a contributor to, and associate editor for, the Handbook of Death & Dying (2003), a publication that was recognized by the American Library Association as an outstanding reference of the year.

      In addition to his interdisciplinary contributions in the general areas of deviant behavior, criminology, and death and dying, Dr. Peck was editor of Sociological Inquiry, the International Honor Society Journal of Alpha Kappa Delta, for 6 years. He has or currently serves on several editorial boards and in numerous professional association positions, including President of the Mid-South Sociological Association and the Alabama-Mississippi Sociological Association. While on leave from The University of Alabama on two occasions, he served in Washington, D.C., as a Senior Analyst with the Department of Housing and Urban Developments and with the Department of Education.

      Dr. Peck's teaching and research interests are in the general areas of demography, the sociology of law, and deviant behavior. He has authored and edited several books, chapters, and journal articles in the areas of suicide, public health, psychiatric law, democracy, toxic waste disposal, life without parole, human sexuality, urban development programming, post-traumatic stress disorder, program evaluation, divorce, social policy, and civility.

      He was awarded B.S. and M.S. degrees from, and is recognized as Distinguished Alumnus of, the University of Wisconsin—Milwaukee. Dr. Peck earned a Ph.D. from Washington State University.

      About the Editorial Board

      Associate Editors

      Kelly A. Joyce received her B.A. in anthropology from Brown University and her Ph.D. in sociology from Boston College. She is Associate Professor of Sociology at the College of William & Mary. Dr. Joyce's research focuses on the use of visualization technologies in medical practice. She is the author of Magnetic Appeal: MRI and the Myth of Transparency, has published articles on visualization in medicine in the journals Science as Culture and Social Studies of Science, and has a chapter in the edited volume Biomedicalization: Technoscience, Health and Illness in the United States (forthcoming). Dr. Joyce also investigates the intersections between health, aging, science, and technology. She has published articles in this area and is a coeditor of the 16th Sociology of Health and Illness monograph, titled Technogenarians: Studying Health and Illness Through an Aging, Science, and Technology Lens. Her current research examines autoimmune disorders, particularly lupus and Crohn's disease. Dr. Joyce is interested in the sociology of medical knowledge. Her research on autoimmune disorders considers medical constructions of the immune system and the gastrointestinal tract.

      Vicki L. Lamb is Associate Professor of Sociology at North Carolina Central University and Senior Research Scientist in the Center for Population Health and Aging at Duke University. She received her M.S. in sociology from Virginia Tech, her Ph.D. in sociology from Duke University, and completed a postdoctoral fellowship at the Center for Demographic Studies at Duke University. She does research on the demography of health, disability, and the life course, and studies active life expectancy, successful aging, Medicare costs, elderly disability, and trends in long-term care of the elderly. Dr. Lamb is also interested in statistical methodology. Some of her recent journal publications appear in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science USA, Population and Development Review, Social Indicators Research, Journal of Health and Aging, Journal of Ambulatory Care Management, and Health Services Research. She has contributed to numerous books and handbooks, including the Handbook of Death & Dying (2003), Key Indicators of Child and Youth Well-Being, the Encyclopedia of Public Health, African American Family Life, Methods and Materials of Demography, and Determining Health Expectancies. Dr. Lamb teaches graduate and undergraduate courses in social gerontology, medical sociology, demography, social statistics, and survey research methods.

      Jon K. Reid is Professor of Psychology and Counseling at Southeastern Oklahoma State University, where he served as Chair of the Department of Behavioral Sciences for 6 years. He regularly teaches courses on human development, human sexuality, death and dying, and grief counseling. As a licensed professional counselor (Texas) for over 20 years, Dr. Reid has provided counseling in a variety of settings, including leading grief support groups in hospitals, churches, and schools. For 6 years, he served as a grief consultant for a children's grief camp held annually for 1 week in the summer. A member of the Association for Death Education and Counseling (ADEC) since 1995, Dr. Reid has served on a number of ADEC committees as well as on the ADEC Board of Directors. He has published articles in the journals Death Studies, Illness, Crisis, and Loss and the Journal of Personal and Interpersonal Loss, and a chapter in the Handbook of Death & Dying (2003). In addition, he has earned certification as a Fellow in Thanatology through ADEC.

      Hikaru Suzuki is a social anthropologist whose research focuses on death and the funerary industry in Japan. Previously at Singapore Management University, Dr. Suzuki received her Ph.D. from Harvard and her M.B.A. from the University of Wisconsin—Madison. Her book, The Price of Death: The Funeral Industry in Contemporary Japan, was based on her fieldwork with a funeral company in Kita-Kyushu, Japan. During this research placement, she worked as an employee, performing, on average, two wakes and one funeral per day. Dr. Hikaru participated in all elements of the funerary process, from picking up the deceased from the hospital; cleansing, bathing, and dressing the deceased; and sending off the deceased to the crematory, as well as arranging wakes, funerals, and memorial services. Among her other major publications are “McFunerals: The Transition of Japanese Funerary Services” (Asian Anthropology) and “Japanese Death Rituals in Transit: From Household Ancestors to Beloved Antecedents” (Journal of Contemporary Religion). She was recently a plenary speaker at the 8th International Conference on Death, Dying, and Disposal in Bath, United Kingdom, where she presented her paper “Japanese Funerals in the Global Age.” Dr. Hikaru is currently editing Death and Dying in Contemporary Japan, which is planned for publication in 2010.

      Michael R. Taylor is Associate Professor in the Department of Philosophy and an affiliated faculty member of the School of International Studies at Oklahoma State University. He teaches courses in social and political philosophy, applied ethics, philosophy of education, and perspectives on death and dying, as well as several nontraditional courses on ethics and globalization. His research focuses on social and ethical problems of international scope and is oriented toward a collaborative and multidisciplinary approach. Among his recent publications are Pragmatism, Education, and Children: International Philosophical Perspectives (coedited with Helmut Schreier and Paulo Ghiraldelli Jr., 2008), and “Illegal Immigration and Moral Obligation” in Public Affairs Quarterly (January 2008).

      Lee Garth Vigilant received his Ph.D. from Boston College in 2001 and is Associate Professor of Sociology at Minnesota State University Moorhead. He teaches in the areas of classical sociological theory, qualitative methods for social research, contemporary sociological theory, social thanatology, health and illness, and social problems. He is a past recipient of the Donald J. White Teaching Excellence Award for Sociology at Boston College (2000) and the TCU Senate Professor of the Year Award from Tufts University (2001). Dr. Vigilant's past research focuses on the meaning of recovery in addiction subcultures. His peer-reviewed publications appear in the journals Sociological Spectrum, Deviant Behavior, and Humanity and Society. He is author of several sociological essays, encyclopedia entries, and book chapters. He is coeditor of the books Social Problems: Readings With Four Questions and The Meaning of Sociology: A Reader (9th edition). Dr. Vigilant is currently studying the social roles of fathers in home-schooling families.

      Advisory Board Members

      Andrew Bernstein is Associate Professor in the History Department and East Asian Studies Program at Lewis and Clark College, Portland, Oregon. He received his B.A. from Amherst College in 1990 and his Ph.D. from Columbia University in 1999. His research focuses primarily on modern Japan and is driven by a fundamental question: How do people build and maintain connections to the past in the midst of radical change? In Modern Passings: Death Rites, Politics, and Social Change in Imperial Japan (2006), he addresses this abstract question by examining how Japanese cope with a specific but universal question: What do we do with the dead? Dealing with this ever-present problem generally meant relying on ancestral solutions, which took the form of death rites that had developed over the centuries to build continuity in the face of loss. At present Dr. Bernstein is writing Fuji: A Mountain in the Making, a comprehensive “biography” of Mt. Fuji that explores the dynamic and contradiction-filled relationship between the volcano as a physical product of nonhuman forces and a cultural icon shaped by all-too-human hopes and desires.

      Douglas James Davies is Professor in the Study of Religion at the Department of Theology and Religion, Durham University, United Kingdom, and Director of that university's Centre for Death and Life Studies. Previously Dr. Davies was Professor of Religious Studies at Nottingham University, where he also wrote a doctoral thesis on salvation in relation to the sociology of knowledge. He was educated at the Lewis School, Pengam, in South Wales, at Durham University's Departments of Anthropology and of Theology, and at the Institute of Social Anthropology at Oxford University. He has taught courses on death, ritual, and belief for many years at Nottingham University and Durham University. He is currently directing funded research projects both on woodland burial and on emotion and identity in religious communities funded by the UK Arts and Humanities Research Council, as well as a major interdisciplinary project on cremation in Scotland funded by the Leverhulme Trust. Among his many publications on death are the coedited Encyclopedia of Cremation (2005); A Brief History of Death (2004); Death, Ritual and Belief (2002); Health, Morality and Sacrifice: The Sociology of Disasters (2002); Death, Ritual and Belief, The Rhetoric of Funerary Rites (1997); and Cremation Today and Tomorrow (1990).

      Lynne Ann DeSpelder is an author, counselor, and Professor of Psychology at Cabrillo College in Aptos, California, and holds a Fellow in Thanatology from the Association for Death Education and Counseling (ADEC). Her writing in the field includes The Last Dance: Encountering Death and Dying (8th edition); A Journey Through The Last Dance: Activities and Resources; and most recently, “Culture, Socialization, and Death Education” in Handbook of Thanatology. She was corecipient of ADEC's Death Education Award. Lynne conducts trainings and speaks about death, dying, and bereavement both nationally and internationally, recently in Italy, England, and Japan. She is a member of ADEC, the International Work Group in Death, Dying and Bereavement, and is on the international editorial board of Mortality.

      Kenneth J. Doka is a Professor of Gerontology at the College of New Rochelle, an ordained Lutheran minister, and Senior Consultant to the Hospice Foundation of America. Dr. Doka's books include Death, Dying and Bereavement: Major Themes in Health and Social Welfare; Pain Management at the End-of-Life: Bridging the Gap Between Knowledge and Practice; Men Don't Cry, Women Do: Transcending Gender Stereotypes of Grief; Disenfranchised Grief: Recognizing Hidden Sorrow; Living With Life Threatening Illness; Children Mourning, Mourning Children; Death and Spirituality; Caregiving and Loss: Family Needs, Professional Responses; AIDS, Fear and Society; Aging and Developmental Disabilities; and Disenfranchised Grief: New Directions, Challenges, and Strategies for Practice; and several Living With Grief titles. In addition, he has published over 100 articles and book chapters. Dr. Doka is currently editor of Omega: The Journal of Death and Dying and Journeys: A Newsletter for the Bereaved. He served as President of the Association for Death Education and Counseling and on the Board of Directors of the International Work Group on Dying, Death and Bereavement. In addition he has served as a consultant to medical, nursing, funeral service, and hospice organizations as well as businesses and educational and social service agencies.

      J. C. Upshaw Downs has been employed as a medical examiner since 1989 and was Alabama's State Forensics Director and Chief Medical Examiner from 1998 to 2002. He has served as consultant to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Behavioral Science Unit in Quantico, Virginia, and has authored four chapters in their manual Managing Death Investigation. Dr. Downs is the primary author of the FBI's acclaimed Forensic Investigator's Trauma Atlas. He has authored several books and chapters in the field of forensic pathology and child abuse. He has testified in state and federal courts, as well as before committees of the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives. He completed two terms on the Board of Directors of the National Association of Medical Examiners. He is on the Board of Advisors for the Law Enforcement Innovation Center at the University of Tennessee and the Board of Directors of the National Forensic Science Technology Center. Dr. Downs graduated from the University of Georgia. He received his M.D. degree and his residency training in anatomic and clinical pathology, and his fellowship in forensic pathology from the Medical University of South Carolina (Charleston). He is board certified in anatomic, clinical, and forensic pathology.

      Michael C. Kearl received a B.A. in sociology from Dartmouth College and a Ph.D. in sociology from Stanford University. Dr. Kearl is Professor of Sociology at Trinity University, where he has taught for more than 30 years. In addition to the sociology and anthropology of death and dying, Dr. Kearl's primary areas of teaching and research include social gerontology, social psychology, the sociology of time, and the sociology of knowledge. Author of Endings: A Sociology of Death & Dying and webmaster of a website on death studies, his publications investigate such subjects as the political uses of the dead in civil religion, the rise of abortion as a political litmus test, the growing roles of the dead in popular culture, impacts of increasing cremation rates on the American death ethos, growing old in a death-denying culture, the ideological orientations of hospice workers, and American immortalism and its battles against extinction. During the 1980s he served as a public member of the Texas State Board of Morticians and was involved in passing extensive consumer-oriented legislation. Dr. Kearl is currently writing The Times of Our Lives, a collection of essays that range from the prolongation of adolescence and its impacts on other life cycle stages to the implications of cultural golden years.

      Michael R. Leming is Professor of Sociology at St. Olaf College in Minnesota. He holds degrees from Westmont College (B.A.), Marquette University (M.A.), and the University of Utah (Ph.D.). He has completed additional graduate study at the University of California, Santa Barbara. He is the founder and former director of the St. Olaf College Social Research Center and is a former member of the Board of Directors of the Minnesota Coalition of Terminal Care. He helped establish two hospice programs and continues to give lectures to hospice programs and caregivers for the dying and the bereaved and is involved in the education of future thanatology workers. He has served as a steering committee member of the Northfield AIDS Response and as a hospice educator, volunteer, and grief counselor. He is the author of numerous articles on thanatology and family issues and has taught courses on death and dying for over 30 years. He is the coauthor of Understanding Dying, Death, and Bereavement and Understanding Families: Diversity, Continuity, and Change. He is also the coeditor of The Sociological Perspective: A Value-Committed Introduction.

      John L. McIntosh is Associate Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs and Professor of Psychology at Indiana University—South Bend. Dr. McIntosh is the author, coauthor, or coeditor of six books on the topic of suicide (including Elder Suicide and Suicide and Its Aftermath) and has contributed chapters to several books and articles to many professional journals. He serves on the editorial boards of Suicide & Life-Threatening Behavior (associate editor);Gerontology and Geriatrics Education; Crisis: The Journal of Crisis Intervention and Suicide Prevention; and Surviving Suicide. He is a member of the Editorial Advisory Board of Advancing Suicide Prevention magazine. Dr. McIntosh is on the national Advisory Council of the Yellow Ribbon Suicide Prevention Program. He is a past president of the American Association of Suicidology, a past member of the American Association of Suicidology Board of Directors, and has served as Secretary of the AAS Board of Directors. His primary research areas are elder suicide, epidemiology of suicide, and survivors of suicide.

      Robert A. Neimeyer is Professor and Director of Psychotherapy Research in the Department of Psychology, University of Memphis, where he also maintains an active clinical practice. Since having completed his doctoral training at the University of Nebraska in 1982, he has conducted extensive research on the topics of death, grief, loss, and suicide intervention. Dr. Neimeyer has authored 20 books, including Meaning Reconstruction and the Experience of Loss; Lessons of Loss: A Guide to Coping; and Rainbow in the Stone, a book of contemporary poetry. The author of over 300 articles and book chapters, he is currently working to advance a more adequate theory of grieving as a meaning-making process. Dr. Neimeyer is the editor of Death Studies and theJournal of Constructivist Psychology, and he is a past president of the Association for Death Education and Counseling. He was appointed to the American Psychological Association's Task Force on End-of-Life Issues, where he helped implement a research and practice agenda for psychology in this critical area.

      John B. Williamson received a B.S. degree from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and was awarded a Ph.D. in social psychology from Harvard University. Dr. Williamson is currently Professor of Sociology at Boston College, where he has taught a large undergraduate course on death and dying for more than 20 years. He has published 16 books and over 120 journal articles and book chapters. In the area of death studies he has published articles and book chapters on euthanasia, suicide, homicide, hospice, body recycling, death anxiety, symbolic immortality, terrorism, accidental deaths, maternal mortality, child mortality, and infant mortality. Among his coauthored and coedited books are Death: Current Perspectives; The Generational Equity Debate; The Senior Rights Movement; Age, Class Politics and the Welfare State; Old Age Security in Comparative Perspective; andThe Politics of Aging. He is currently Chair of the Social Research, Policy, and Practice section and a vice president of the Gerontological Society of America. Dr. Williamson is affiliated with the Center for Retirement Research and with the Center for Work and Aging, both at Boston College. The focus of much of his current research is on retirement and the comparative international study of social security systems.


      William C. Allen Temple University

      Marga Altena Nijmegen University

      Sophia Anong Virginia Tech University

      Patrick Ashwood Hawkeye Community College

      Nicole Back Franciscan Village

      Carol A. Bailey Virginia Tech University

      David Balk City University of New York at Brooklyn College

      Janet Balk Barton County Community College

      Lesley Bannatyne Independent Scholar/Writer

      Raymond Barfield Duke University, School of Medicine

      Ronald K. Barrett Loyola Marymount University

      Margaret Pabst Battin University of Utah

      Ann Korologos Bazzarone Independent Scholar

      Renée L. Beard University of Chicago

      Philip Beh University of Hong Kong

      Regina Belkin Private Practitioner

      Nachman Ben-Yehuda Hebrew University

      Frances P. Bernat Arizona State University

      Andrew Bernstein Lewis and Clark College

      Jan Bleyen Katholieke Universiteit Leuven

      Marjie Bloy Beijing Language and Culture University (Retired)

      Sophie Bolt Radboud University Nijmegen

      Pauline Boss University of Minnesota

      Sarah Brabant University of Louisiana at Lafayette (Retired)

      Michael Bracy Oklahoma State University

      James Brandman Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine

      Peter Branney Leeds Metropolitan University

      Andrea Malkin Brenner American University

      Emma Brodzinski Royal Holloway, University of London

      Heidi F. Browne Virginia Tech University

      Clifton D. Bryant Virginia Tech University (Professor Emeritus)

      Robert Buckman University of Toronto

      Randy Cagle Minnesota State University Moorhead

      James Cain Oklahoma State University

      Bruce B. Campbell College of William & Mary

      Kathleen Campbell U.S. Army Military Academy

      Deborah Carr Rutgers University and University of Wisconsin

      Cecilia Lai Wan Chan University of Hong Kong

      Cypress W. Chang National Taipei College of Nursing

      Amy Y. M. Chow University of Hong Kong

      Elise Madeleine Ciregna University of Delaware

      Jeffrey Michael Clair University of Alabama at Birmingham

      Eugenia Conde Texas A&M University

      Charles A. Corr Hospice Institute of the Florida Suncoast

      Rachel Traut Cortes Texas A&M University

      Brittney L. Coscomb Temple University

      Gerry R. Cox University of Wisconsin—La Crosse

      Sarah Dauncey University of Warwick

      Betty Davies University of California, San Francisco

      Christie Davies University of Reading

      Douglas J. Davies Durham University

      Grégory Delaplace University of Cambridge

      Michael Robert Dennis Emporia University

      Bethany S. DeSalvo Texas A&M University

      Regis A. de Silva Harvard University

      Lynne Ann DeSpelder Cabrillo College

      Anna Maria Destro Eastern Piedmont University Medical School

      George E. Dickenson College of Charleston

      Kenneth J. Doka College of New Rochelle

      J. C. Upshaw Downs Georgia State Regional Medical Examiner's Office

      Cristina Dumitru-Lahaye University Paris Descartes and University of Bucharest

      Jerry Durham Allen College

      Keith F. Durkin Ohio Northern University

      James W. Ellor Baylor University

      Paul Elvig International Cemetery, Cremation & Funeral Association

      Charles F. Emmons Gettysburg College

      Mario Erasmo University of Georgia

      Eric J. Ettema Vrije Universiteit Medical Centre

      Lisa M. Farley Sage Colleges

      Christopher J. Ferguson Texas A&M International University

      Abbott L. Ferriss Emory University

      Amy C. Finnegan Boston College

      Patti J. Fisher Virginia Tech University

      Phil Fitzsimmons University of Wollongong

      Mónica J. Giedelmann Reyes Universidad Pontificia Bolivariana

      Richard B. Gilbert Mercy College

      Herbert Glaser Aurora Casket

      Erik D. Gooding Minnesota State University Moorhead

      Emma-Jayne Graham Cardiff University

      Susan-Mary Grant Newcastle University

      James W. Green University of Washington

      Howard Gruetzner Alzheimer Association

      Harry Hamilton University of Alabama at Birmingham

      Robert O. Hansson University of Tulsa

      Helen Harris Baylor University

      Graham Harvey Open University

      James Hawdon Virginia Tech University

      Celia Ray Hayhoe Virginia Cooperative Extension

      Bert Hayslip Jr. University of North Texas

      Meike Heessels Radboud University Nijmegen

      Marty H. Heitz Oklahoma State University

      Bradley R. Hertel Virginia Tech University

      Janice Miner Holden University of North Texas

      Glennys Howarth University of Bath

      Richard T. Hull State University of New York at Buffalo (Retired)

      Corinne G. Husten Partnership for Prevention

      Keith Jacobi The University of Alabama

      Claude Javeau Université Libre de Bruxelles

      Emilie Jaworski University Paris Descartes

      Christopher J. Johnson University of Louisiana at Monroe

      Ronald E. Jones Alabama State Department of Corrections (Retired)

      Kelly A. Joyce College of William & Mary

      Jack Kamerman Kean University

      Asa Kasher Tel Aviv University

      Robert Kastenbaum Arizona State University

      Michael Kearl Trinity University

      Margareta Kern Independent Photographer/Artist

      Kriss A. Kevorkian University of Wisconsin—Eau Claire

      John E. King University of Arkansas

      Daniel J. Klenow North Dakota State University

      James Knapp Southeastern Oklahoma State University

      Sawa Kurotani University of Redlands

      Vicki L. Lamb North Carolina Central University

      Lorraine Y. Landry Oklahoma State University

      Edie Marie Lanphar San Roque School

      Kenzie Latham University of Florida

      Irene E. Leech Virginia Tech University

      Michael R. Leming St. Olaf College

      David Lester Richard Stockton College of New Jersey

      Daniel Leviton University of Maryland (Retired)

      Yu-chan Li National Taipei College of Nursing

      J. Robert Lilly Northern Kentucky University

      Jack LoCicero Madonna University

      Patricia Lysaght University College Dublin

      Nora Machado University of Gothenburg

      Vicky M. MacLean Middle Tennessee State University

      Anna Madill University of Leeds

      Charles Maynard University of Washington

      Ryan McDonald College of William & Mary

      John L. McIntosh Indiana University South Bend

      Barbra McKenzie University of Wollongong

      Stephen J. McNamee University of North Carolina Wilmington

      Anne K. Mellor University of California, Los Angeles

      Gregg D. Merksamer Professional Car Society

      Paul Metzler Director of Community & Program Services

      Jon'a F. Meyer Rutgers University

      Leslie D. Meyer Texas A&M University

      Robert K. Miller University of North Carolina Wilmington

      Ted R. Miller Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation

      Tony Milligan University of Aberdeen

      Jason Milne Longwood University

      Penelope J. Moore Iona College

      Brenda Moretta Guerrero Our Lady of the Lake University

      Eve L. Mullen Emory University

      Robert A. Neimeyer University of Memphis

      Kristie Niemeier University of Kentucky

      Nik Suryani Nik Abd Rahman International Islamic University Malaysia

      Illene C. Noppe University of Wisconsin—Green Bay

      Lauren A. O'Brien University of Georgia

      Emiko Ohnuki-Tierney University of Wisconsin

      Linda W. Olivet The University of Alabama (Emeritus Dean of Nursing)

      Richard W. Oram University of Texas at Austin

      Ann M. Palkovich George Mason University

      Chang-Won Park Durham University

      David Patterson University of Memphis

      Dennis L. Peck The University of Alabama (Professor Emeritus)

      Chuck W. Peek University of Florida

      Janneke Peelen Radboud University Nijmegen

      Sami Pihlström University of Jyväskylä

      Maurizio Pompili Sant'Andrea Hospital/

      Sapienza University of Rome

      Dudley L. Poston Jr. Texas A&M University

      Thomas Quartier University of Nijmegen

      Haniza Rais International Islamic University Malaysia

      Lillian Range Our Lady of Holy Cross College

      Najwa Raouda Oklahoma State University

      Mark D. Reed Georgia State University

      Jon K. Reid Southeastern Oklahoma State University

      Eric Reitan Oklahoma State University

      Abigail B. Reiter University of North Carolina Wilmington

      Gary T. Reker Trent University

      Mary Elizabeth Richards Brunel University

      Jessica M. Richmond University of Akron

      Ferris J. Ritchey University of Alabama at Birmingham

      Karen A. Roberto Virginia Tech University

      Daniel A. Roberts Temple Emanu El

      Deborah Mitchell Robinson Valdosta State University

      J. Earl Rogers Independent Scholar/ Writer

      Paul M. Roman University of Georgia

      Bronna D. Romanoff Sage Colleges

      Susan Roos Roos and Associates

      Lori A. Roscoe University of South Florida

      Paul C. Rosenblatt University of Minnesota

      Virginia Rothwell Virginia Tech University

      Jeffrey Burton Russell University of California, Santa Barbara

      Terri Sabatos U.S. Army Military Academy

      Melissa Sandefur Middle Tennessee State University

      George Sanders Oakland University

      Lars Sandman Gothenburg University and University College of Borås

      Duncan Sayer University of Bath

      Donna L. Schuurman Dougy Center for Grieving Children & Families

      Gillian Scott University of York

      Steven J. Seiler University of Tennessee

      Kenneth W. Sewell University of North Texas

      Andrew Sherwood University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown

      Edwin S. Shneidman University of California, Los Angeles (Professor Emeritus)

      Donald J. Shoemaker Virginia Tech University

      Jacqueline Simpson The Folklore Society, London

      Sangeeta Singg Angelo State University

      Caitlin E. Slodden Brandeis University

      Caroline C. Smith Sage Colleges

      Harold Ivan Smith American Academy of Bereavement

      Carla Sofka Siena College

      Steven Stack Wayne State University

      Silke Steidinger Inform

      Irene Stengs Meertens Institute

      Robert G. Stevenson Mercy College

      David J. Stewart East Carolina University

      Jenny Streit-Horn University of North Texas

      Albert Lee Strickland Pacific Publishing Services

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      Humans are the only knowledge-accumulating animals. The history of humankind is fundamentally the history of, search for, acquisition of, and accumulation of knowledge. With accumulated knowledge, humans have been able to survive, endure, and prevail. With knowledge, they can adapt to the physical and objective world in which they live, with its changes in climate, terrain, and weather and its wide variety of flora and fauna. Knowledge enables us to adapt to the social and subjective world in which we live, to form meaningful relationships with other people, and to meet the collective need for understanding. Coming to understand the world in which we live enables us to solve problems, overcome challenges, and confront uncertainties and fears. Knowledge expands at an exponential rate, precipitating the development of technology, driving the increasing rate of progress, and enhancing the quality of life and the human condition.

      Prehistoric humans existed in a state of ignorance. They lived in a world of mysteries and enigmas. They did not know why the sun rose and set, or why the moon changed shape and brightness. They did not understand rain, or thunder, or lightning. They did not understand seasonal differences in weather and climate. They did not understand why they sometimes became ill. Perhaps the greatest enigma of all was death. Why did their loved ones become sick and die, and why did the bodies of the dead become cold and stiff? The body was still there, but what had happened to the spirit within the body?

      Prehistoric burials provide insight into how inhabitants of that era answered these questions by constructing belief systems regarding death, the dead, and existence beyond death. Prehistoric people may well have concluded that their cold, stiff companions were simply in some form of lengthy sleep. They may have conceptualized a bifurcation or separation of body and spirit in which the spirit left the body, as in a dream, and went elsewhere, perhaps to return at some later date. Such an explanation suggested that there must be some type of existence beyond death. The fact that the dead were often buried with stone implements and cooked food reinforces the conclusion that these prehistoric people believed in an existence after death in which their dead comrades would need food and tools.

      The decision to bury the dead body, often in caves, was likely motivated by the obnoxious smell of the putrefying body, the concern that the smell might attract predators, and the desire to keep their loved ones close at hand and protected or insulated from the elements and animals, in anticipation of the return of the spirit to the lifeless body. Deceased individuals were sometimes buried in a sleeping position, laid to rest, as it were. Archeological evidence suggests that the buried bodies had sometimes been smeared with red ochre (a type of clay dust), possibly to simulate the appearance of blood, like that on an infant just after birth. Perhaps this practice was intended to magically precipitate or facilitate a rebirth from “mother earth,” or even reincarnation or rebirth as a different individual (or as an animal).

      Archeological evidence indicates that many prehistoric burials contained grasses, tree boughs, and other soft vegetation, a further indication that prehistoric peoples were concerned about the comfort and well-being of the dead. They may also have believed that the dead would somehow be aware of their efforts to make the grave comfortable. In some burials, the paleo-remains of bright flowers were found, suggesting affection, reverence, and respect for the dead. In some burials, there was archeological evidence of ibex skulls and horns stuck in the ground in a circular fashion around the body. In others, there were similar, curious but stylistic arrangements of animal remains near the burial site. This indicated that a degree of ritualism attended the burial. Most importantly, the evidence and inferences uncovered in these archeological gravesites demonstrates that these prehistoric humans had well-defined death belief systems.

      Over the millennia, death belief systems became more elaborate, convoluted, and more esoteric, being shaped by the cultural contexts in which they were constructed and evolved. These complex death belief systems served to frame death and the dead in a more understandable and controllable fashion and played an important role in the origin of religions. The evolving religious belief systems had at their core conceptualizations of death and the afterlife, and notions of through which mechanisms one could achieve the afterlife.

      Totemism is another example of the evolution of death belief systems. Archeologists suggest that the dreams of prehistoric peoples may have included images of certain animals, and conceivably even some type of relationship with the animal. Such dreams may have led prehistoric people to postulate linkages between humans and special types of animals, and such beliefs may have been the origin of totemism. Totemism is the concept that there is a special relationship between a particular type or species of animal (or even plant) and the members of some social groups (especially kinship groups). The linkage often involves a protective reciprocity and a spiritual relationship among humans, animals, and nature. This belief system includes the idea that humans are descended from their totemic animals or that humans and their totemic animals are descended from similar spirits. It is thought that when a human or totemic animal dies, their spirits mingle with each other in some spiritual sacred place. One of these kindred spirits (human or animal) may enter the body of a woman, impregnating her; thus, human or totemic animal spirits may be reborn in either human or animal form. Such beliefs were the progenesis of reincarnation, which became the basis of death belief systems and later evolved into more complex religious systems.

      The English philosopher Herbert Spencer posited that religion was the product of the fear of death and the dead. In effect, death belief systems were the origin of religious belief systems, which, in turn, evolved over time into more organized and coherent religions. It was through religion that humans were able to conceptualize, confront, control, and transcend death. Men and women could neutralize and assimilate the prospect of death through adherence to their religion and the death belief systems component to it.

      By the time the ancient civilizations of Asia, the Middle East, and Egypt emerged, knowledge about death and scenarios concerning existence after death had expanded and proliferated to the point where it was sometimes aggregated into books or other records. An example of this is the Papyrus of Ani, more popularly known as The Egyptian Book of the Dead, which was written and compiled somewhere around 1240 B.C.E. The Papyrus of Ani is a 78-foot funerary papyrus scroll or roll that contains vividly colored images or vignettes of scenes of existence in the afterlife, accompanied by an extensive text in hieroglyphs. Its purpose was to assist its owner in the next world. This collection of texts based on the religious views of that time includes prayers, incantations, rituals, spiritual visions of the afterlife, and descriptions of the soul's journey in that existence—essentially a kind of encyclopedia of Egyptian eschatology (the study of scenarios of existence beyond death).

      Over the centuries, aggregated knowledge of death, dying, and/or the afterlife appeared in many forms. For example, The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying contains descriptions of the afterlife, instructions on attending someone who is dying or recently has died, prayers, and a guide for “spiritual liberation.” Major religious works such as the Bible, the Qur'an, and the Torah usually included information about death and the afterlife. Compendiums of knowledge about death sometimes appeared in curious venues. For example, senet, an ancient Egyptian funery board game, simulated the soul passing through the myriad stations or houses component to the netherworld or hereafter. The players would cast their dice sticks and move their playing pieces across a board decorated with symbols of the various houses of the dead. This game, not unlike the modern game of Monopoly, allowed the players to symbolically act out various scenarios of the death journey. Senet was another example of a compendium of ancient Egyptian eschatological knowledge. Another example of an unusual venue of accumulated knowledge about death is a long tunnel in a cemetery located just outside Taipei, Taiwan, decorated with mural scenes portraying the various stages of life, and also scenes from the afterlife that will be experienced by individuals when they die. Walking through the tunnel simulates the journey of life and death, thereby informing the visitors regarding Chinese eschatology.

      During the Middle Ages, devout Christians sought to meet death with equanimity. To aid in accomplishing this, two Latin texts of accumulated knowledge about dying were published and provided instructions, protocols, rituals, and advice on how to prepare to die and achieve the good death. These texts, one long and one in a shorter version, were titled Ars Moriendi. The longer version, authored in 1415, was widely read and translated into various European languages, including English. Over time, it was published in approximately 100 editions and became the definitive exposition on the art of dying well.

      For centuries, first in Europe and later in North America, Christianity was able to control death, “tame” it, and make it “captive,” as it were. For most people, death was not only natural and inevitable but also accepted and anticipated. Through the strength of their religious belief and faith, individuals could confront the prospect of their own mortality, secure in the conviction of salvation and eternal life beyond death. For centuries, the equilibrium of religion, knowledge about death and the afterlife, and personal belief insulated individuals from the fear of death.

      By the 20th century, the evolution of science and technology, combined with the dilution of religious belief, had eroded this insulation, and death was no longer “tamed” and “captive.” New coping mechanisms were needed. Americans now became “death-denying,” pushing death out of sight and out of mind. Death was hidden and transformed into a less fearful and traumatizing entity. Some modern-day thanatologists such as Geoffrey Gorer posited the idea that like sex being a taboo topic (pornograpy, if you will) during the Victorian era, there was a generalized taboo regarding discussions of death and dying during the first half of the 20th century. In effect, the pursuit of death denial rendered death “pornographic.” Many changes in customs, protocols, and social behavior helped make death less visible and intrusive. The accumulation of death-related knowledge slowed.

      After World War II, in spite of cultural efforts to maintain this façade, death was rediscovered, and the new death awareness movement gathered momentum. By the turn of the century, death had been fully rediscovered and exposed. The knowledge of death was now pervasive and was disseminated in numerous venues—the mass media, trade books, textbooks, and periodicals.

      Over the centuries, and particularly in contemporary times, a variety of themes have appeared in death-related knowledge. One of the more central of these themes has been that of confronting and transcending death. Throughout history and across cultures, humans have constructed strategies and mechanisms for assimilating death. Among such strategies are constructing religious eschatological scenarios of an existence after death, denying death, developing philosophical postures to neutralize death, keeping the dead alive via spiritualism or an acceptance of the notion of ghosts, accepting accounts of near-death experiences, fostering a belief in reincarnation, and accommodating a social exchange for death.

      Another theme is that of exploring causal modes of death, the variant interpretations of death based on cause and context, and the social construction of death. Although the causes of death in contemporary society are myriad, many deaths are esoteric in cause, or occur with modest frequency. There are, however, major causal modes of death. On a global basis, especially in third world countries, there are massive deaths from natural disasters, infectious and parasitic diseases, localized wars, insurgencies and revolutions, infant starvation and dehydration, and death in childbirth, to mention only some. In the contemporary United States, more than one-half of all deaths result from major cardiovascular diseases and malignancies (cancer). Other leading causes of death include stroke, pulmonary diseases, accidents, pneumonia, and chronic liver diseases. Different causes of death may have disparate social consequences. Certain modes or aspects of death are subject to contention and controversy, such as suicide, euthanasia, abortion, and capital punishment. Information about, and arguments for or against, these issues have added to the accumulation of knowledge in this area. Death is often more a social process than an event, and significant knowledge has been generated on the anticipation of death, the process of dying, and the institutional context of dying.

      Throughout history, perhaps, the most important social ceremonial response to death has been that of funeralization. The significant elements of funeralization are notification, body preparation, the structure and dynamics of funerals, crosscultural and historical aspects of funeralization, and postfuneralization activities. A considerable body of knowledge of some significance has accrued for incorporation into this theme.

      Another death-related theme is that of body disposition. The choice of body disposition is more the product of culture than personal choice. Throughout history, and in most cultures, earth burial and incineration have been the primary modes. There have been, however, exceptions to these norms, such as mummification, and today there are numerous options available, ranging from body recycling in the form of organ donations, to long-range preservation via cryonic suspension. A considerable body of knowledge pertaining to this theme has been generated and accumulated.

      A theme of some centrality is that of grief, bereavement, mourning, and survivorhood. Much research, writing, and scholarship has addressed these topics and produced a substantial literature. Although much of this work has been done in recent years, there was also earlier discussion of these issues. For example, toward the end of the 19th century, most books of etiquette devoted almost one half of their contents to bereavement and mourning behavior.

      There are multiple themes of death in artistic creations, including paintings, architecture, sculpture, literature, music, and drama, to mention but some. Some thanatological artistic impressions conceptualize death in a variety of forms. Others focus on the confrontation with death or the cause of death. Yet others depict grief, bereavement, and mourning. Obviously these themes have their roots in antiquity, with the result that there is a vast amount of knowledge in this area.

      Death is not without its legal parameters, and a substantial amount of thanatological knowledge deals with legal issues. Some death-related legalities are centuries old, such as the matter of testamentary inheritance. Other legal concerns, such as death certificates, cemetery regulation, and the notion of wrongful death, are somewhat more recent. Still other legal matters, such as living wills and the concept of thanatological crime, are quite contemporary.

      Humans like to look ahead and seek glimpses of the future. Already futurists and other scholars of prognostic inclination are constructing scenarios of events, processes, products, changing attitudes, and other death-related human social, deathrelated activities. These endeavors promise a new plethora of knowledge.

      Knowledge often proliferates to the point of becoming massive, unwieldy, and unmanageable. To be useful, knowledge must constantly be sorted, arranged, packaged, stored, even pruned, and configured into practical forms and be readily retrievable. Works such as dictionaries, anthologies, bibliographies, compendiums, directories, handbooks, and encyclopedias often facilitate this accomplishment.

      The Encyclopedia of Death and the Human Experience attempts to make death-related knowledge available, accessible, and readily retrievable. With approximately 330 concise, informative, and authoritative entries authored by a group of eminent scholars from many countries, it covers the field of thanatological knowledge in a comprehensive fashion. The entries reflect all of the deathrelated themes previously articulated and represent the latest state of knowledge on all of the topics. Hopefully, this reference work will appropriately inform and instruct the reader seeking to better understand the enigma of death and its import for the social enterprise.

      Clifton D.Bryant


      The essence of interdisciplinary thanatological study of death-related behavior is characterized in this two-volume Encyclopedia of Death and the Human Experience. Death and dying and death-related behavior involves the causes of death and the nature of the actions and emotions surrounding death among the living. The content of this comprehensive library reference is inclusive of the complex cultural beliefs and traditions and the institutionalized social rituals that surround dying and death as well as the array of emotional responses relating to bereavement, grieving, and mourning.

      The Encyclopedia of Death and the Human Experience represents the theoretical and the practical. It is a compendium statement of the interdisciplinary, scholarly nature of death and dying research and study, as well as the practical applications of the knowledge generated by professional and lay persons whose career paths have been responsive to and reflective of the human experience. Moreover, the approximately 330 entries represent an array of approaches that portray the natural order of the life cycle as well as the socially constructed cultural artifacts created as humans attempt to deal with life experiences involving the anticipation of death, the process of dying, rituals in which the legacy of the deceased are celebrated, and the meaningful symbolic enhancement of a society through its cultural entities.

      The content of this two-volume set is historical, it is contemporary, and it is futuristic. The entry titles result from the combined effort of experienced Sage Publications professionals with contributions by the editors. Based on this effort we are privileged to include in this manuscript the contributions provided by several generations of scholars who are, in turn, responsible for the initial and then extensive subsequent interest in death and dying research. Their efforts were not always appreciated within the previous mainstream of scholarly research, but the commitment of these individuals, many of whom contributed to this encyclopedia, stands as testimony to the creation of new pathways of knowledge. Moreover, their intense interest resulted, ultimately, in the creation of academic courses on death and dying and then the creation of programs that are, in large part, responsible for all the entries presented in this two-volume set.

      The international contributors bring important interdisciplinary and cross-cultural perspectives to the encyclopedia. The many fine international scholars and practitioners are from Africa, Asia (China, Hong Kong, and Singapore), and Australia; North and South Americas; and many European countries, including France, Great Britain, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, and Spain. Included among the authors are research scholars, health practitioners, and counselors of many areas of expertise, and members of the arts. These individuals represent, or are engaged in, the practice of anthropology, the clergy, counseling, economics, education, English, evaluation research, family studies, fashion advisors, history, law, medical researchers and clinicians, museum directors, nursing, organization directors, political science, psychiatry, psychology, religious studies, sociology, and social work. This experienced group of talented contributors offers important insight into the process of dying and the phenomenon of death. Along with the special focus on the cultural artifacts and social institutions and practices that constitute the human experience, the combination focus on the human condition and experience makes this an extraordinary reference encyclopedia.

      Project Description

      Interest in the varied dimensions of death and dying has led to the development of death studies that move beyond medical research to include behavioral science disciplines and practitioner-oriented fields. As a result of this interdisciplinary interest, the literature in the field of death and the human experience studies has dramatically increased during the past 20 years. Death-related terms and concepts that encompass global beliefs and traditions, death denial, and social movements as well as interdisciplinary and practitioner-oriented perspectives on death now hold important ecological, family, economic, medical, legal, religious, and global social-psychological consequences. Examples include death-related terms and concepts such as angel makers, appropriate death, Chinese death taboos, death anxiety, the postself, body farms, dance of death (danse macabre), equivocal death, end-of-life decision making, near-death experiences, cemeteries, ghost photography, halo nurses, memorials, viatical settlements, second burial, suicide, medical mistakes, advance directives, caregiver stress, SIDS, cryonics, cyberfunerals, global religious beliefs and traditions, and death denial. As a result, many terms and phrases are now part of common social discourse and media reporting. But the lexicon relating to dying, death, and the emotions, activities, and policy relating to the human experience is expansive, thus lending itself to the need to establish consistency in vocabulary of death meanings. The Encyclopedia of Death and the Human Experience does so, and this two-volume library reference is enriched through important multidisciplinary contributions and perspectives as it arranges, organizes, defines, and clarifies a comprehensive listing of approximately 330 death-related issues, concepts, perspectives, and theories for use by students and scholars, while facilitating a more refined and sensitive understanding of the field for an increasingly interested public.

      Development of the Project

      The initial list of entries was compiled through a search of learned journals and topic-specific textbooks. Such searches were useful for identifying the classic concepts, theories, and terms, but suggestions that identify emerging concepts and work currently being conducted came from an even more valuable resource, namely the members of the encyclopedia's editorial board and from scholars and practitioners who recommended prospective entries be considered even after a final list of topics had been compiled. Thus, the richness of the total list of entries results from the interest and input of the many individuals who have so freely given to this project.

      Authorship of the entries was developed in a similar manner. Recognized contributors to the area of thanatology study were requested to offer their considerable insight and talent by crafting entries. In turn, the authorship list was expanded as networks were identified and specific authors were invited to participate. Ultimately, interest in this project was to take on a life of its own as the project became international in scope.

      The Reader's Guide

      Developed around 16 categories, the Reader's Guide includes approximately 330 entries, many of which address traditional death- and dying-related topics. But, in addition, a special focus on the human experience enhances the overall substance of this work. This important focus on the human condition blends an interesting array of new topics with traditional entries to create a unique dimension to the study of death and dying.

      Conceptualization of Death, Dying, and the Human Experience: This introductory category offers the definition and conceptualization of death and the human experience from the interdisciplinary perspectives that are representative of the Encyclopedia of Death and the Human Experience.These areas include the humanities, social sciences, religious perspectives, medical sciences, and legal approaches to understanding the increasingly complex issues involved in death and dying and for those who must continue to function in the aftermath of the death of a loved one. Special focus is accorded the secular scientific approach with topics that include forensic anthropology, forensic science, and the process leading to the medicalization of death and dying.

      Arts, Media, and Popular Culture: This category consists of the kinds of entries that lend insightful discussion of the display and depictions of death in art, literature, photography, sculpture, architecture, wax museums, and museums of death. A more contemporary characterization of death is noted in entries that address popular culture movies and video games with a death theme.

      Causes of Death: This category consists of entries that address issues of social and historical significance as well as important contemporary policy implications. The leading worldwide causes of death are prominently represented. This section also include entries pertaining to capital punishment and prison deaths, drug use and abuse, man-made and natural disasters, spontaneous combustion, subintentional death, domestic and international terrorism, and tobacco use.

      Coping With Loss and Grief: Special attention is cast toward the living as they try to cope with issues attendant to dying and death. Included in this category is historical coverage of grief, bereavement, and mourning, each of which is found in abundance in the contemporary experience. Ranging from entries titled Denial of Death and Death Anxiety to those of Gold Star Mothers, Instrumental Grieving: Gender Differences, the Postself, and Widows and Widowers, this section includes entries that address the individual microlevel and macro-level human experiences and the consequences relating to dying and death.

      Cross-Cultural Perspectives: This is a category of exceptional entries that lends credence to the ancient beliefs, traditions, and practices and perspectives toward dying and death, and those among the indigenous tribes of Australia and North America. A compendium statement of the social, cultural, and moral views is found within The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying entry. Included also is a cross-cultural perspective of the death care industry, the social functions of death, and Chinese death taboos. Such entries add a special tone to these international orientations.

      Developmental and Demographic Perspectives: This category is represented by entries that cover the stages of life and the relational effects of mortality rates when variables such as age, life expectancy, marital status, gender, and social class on death rates are controlled. Other factors include the effects of death on the family composition, theories of population growth and decline, and sexual activity.

      Disposition of the Deceased: Representing one of the larger Reader's Guide categories, this section encompasses entries on the historical practice of mummification in ancient Egypt and the more contemporary entries up to the societal need to commemorate its heroic fallen warriors with entries such as Cemeteries and Columbaria, Military and Battlefield and the Tomb of the Unknowns. The recent movement to establish green burial and virtual cemeteries and the personal need to remember family pets through burial in pet cemeteries also have representative entries.

      Funerals and Death-Related Activities: This category identifies the importance of death on the body politic through its social cultural rituals. This is aptly demonstrated with entries that cover clothing and fashion, cosmetic restoration, the death notification process, and the funeral industry.

      Legal Matters: This category includes topics such as the death certificate, equivocal death, forensic science, the legalities of death, and the psychological autopsy. Topics of more recent social significance include living wills and advance directives and viatical settlements.

      Mass Death: This noteworthy category of topics holds historical and contemporary significance it that it covers the conditions that result from war, terrorism, and disease. The additional inclusion of tragic events such as school shootings, genocide, and the Holocaust make this a section that will draw attention to what has been referred to as the inhumanity of the human species toward its own.

      Process of Dying: From entries such as The Art of Dying (Ars Moriendi) and Quality of Life, Halo Nurses Program, and Life Review to the entry Persistent Vegetative State, this category of the Reader's Guide is designed to keep readers reading one interesting topic after another. It is full of history of the hospice movement and addresses the influence advancing technology has on preserving life as well as maintaining the dignity of the dying.

      Religion: The institution of religion has important implications for dying and death and for those who are interested in eschatology. Included are entries that address the major world religious beliefs and traditions as well as the spiritualist beliefs of the more ancient past. The perspective of nonbelievers also is offered.

      Rituals, Ceremonies, and Celebrations: Celebrating the past includes honoring the dead. These entries nicely complement the previous classification of religious oriented entries while also offering a convenient category of topics that describe crosscultural events such as Day of the Dead, funeral conveyances, Ghost Month, Halloween, Memorial Day, and holidays of the dead. The concept of postself and the funerary custom of sin eating make this a most interesting category of entries.

      Suicide, Euthanasia, and Homicide: A set of topics with a sociohistorical and legal legacy, many of the entries in this section suggest the same may be true for the contemporary experience. Suicide was once considered illegal behavior, and the penalty for a failed suicide attempt was, ironically, death. At another point in time, the penalty for a successful suicide was state confiscation of the deceased's property, a clear detriment to survivors. Euthanasia or an easy death is a cause for ethical outcry and for some individuals a moral outrage, while the homicide concept represents a variety of contemporary subcategories that address different interpretations of those acts that result in the taking of the life of another.

      Theories and Concepts: The foundation of an area of study lies in its theories and concepts; the same is no less true for thanatology. This section presents topics that conceptualize and portray death and the human experience with an interdisciplinary sociocultural perspective that also includes topics on demography, education, economics, and history.

      Unworldly Entities and Events: The final category represents the unusual, but may, for some readers, represent one of the more interesting categories. These well-written entries include Curses and Hexes, Frankenstein, Ghost Photography, Ghosts, Witches, and, finally, Zombies, Revenants, Vampires, and Reanimated Corpses.

      Visual Aids

      The selective use of charts, figures, graphs, tables, and pictures (e.g., the use of a life table for the entry Life Expectancy) is designed to enhance the reader's impression of the topic. Although tables usually contain an array of interesting descriptive and inferential information such as is found in the entry Death, Line of Duty and the entry Life Expectancy, most of the information of this nature has been integrated within the well-developed descriptive narratives crafted by the contributing authors who are so well versed in their topic that visual aids are not necessary. Where these visual aids are utilized, however, the effect is most dramatic. One such example is that of the entry Clothing and Fashion, Death-Related, which has a pictorial display of individuals who have fashioned their burial cloths. Another example is the Funeral Conveyances entry for which many exquisite pictures of hearse wagons and other modes of transportation of the dead are provided.

      A Scholarly Library Reference and Resource for the Novice and Other Interested Readers

      The Encyclopedia of Death and the Human Experience is intended as a resource for the upper division undergraduate student as well as others interested in this intriguing area of study. With such an array of topics that include traditional subjects and important emerging ideas, the encyclopedia will undoubtedly enhance the research efforts of the undergraduate who seeks to develop that challenging class paper. Lay readers also will find much to stimulate their thoughts. For the graduate student and the faculty member who strive to secure a compendium statement for lectures or for establishing a basic research agendum, this encyclopedia will prove to be a most useful resource.

      The Encyclopedia of Death and the Human Experience is the result of the contributions of many people. The entries were crafted by individuals who are well known and well versed in the complexities of the dying and death arena. Many of the contributors to this encyclopedia have long been recognized as the founders of, and contributors to, this important area of teaching and research study. In addition, a number of in-service practitioners who do not always receive appropriate recognition are well represented; in this instance their entries blend nicely within the overall structure of the encyclopedia. Finally, some very interesting and intriguing entries have been created by rising scholars whose current efforts lend themselves to potential national and international recognition in the near future.

      Dennis L. Peck

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