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.

Death Denial: Hiding and Camouflaging Death
Death denial: Hiding and camouflaging death

Death anxiety is a common human attribute. May (1950) suggests that death is the most obvious symbol of the individual's fear of “nonbeing,” in that each of us has a finite existence. Indeed, it has been said that all anxiety is rooted in our awareness of our own mortality (Kastenbaum 1992). In this context, Becker (1973) has similarly observed that the fear of death is universal, and indeed underlies all other fears that we as human beings have. Thus the “morbidly minded” argument (Becker 1973) regarding how humans come ...

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