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.


To notify select “publics” or constituencies that one from among them has died is an old and valued tradition. How this is done, in what detail, or even what it is called varies over time and from one culture to another. As Lawuyi (1989) concludes, some form of death publication is “a symbol with which the Muslims, the Christians and the traditional religionists all identify” (p. 94). In every society, except perhaps in time of war or natural disaster, there is some traditional means of publicizing individual deaths. In England, before newspapers and printed ...

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