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.

Living Wills and Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care
Living wills and durable power of attorney for health care

Living wills and durable powers of attorney may be understood as nips and tucks in the cultural lag that our rapidly advancing health care technology has produced. They promote individual autonomy (McLaughlin and Braun 1998; Samuels 1996; Pope 1999), they may save scarce medical resources from being spent unnecessarily (Schneiderman et al. 1992; Stephens and Grady 1992; Broadwell et al. 1993; Fins 1997), and they may protect health care providers from lawsuits for wrongful death or unnecessary treatment (Schniederman et al. ...

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