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.
Each of us will eventually arrive at the end of a unique life and die an individual death. The natural boundaries of that life are marked by the events of birth and death in a most personal and private way. The symbolic significance that an individual attaches to death can affect many aspects of the way that person dies, including decisions regarding when and under what circumstances he or she dies, from what cause or reason, whether the decisions made by and for the individual are harmonious with the philosophical and ethical values that have defined ...