The American Perception of Death

This photo was taken by jimmedia at www.flickr.com

Over the past 100 years, the word “death,” in American culture has almost become a politically incorrect term. Think about it. What do people usually say after a death? He is no longer with us. He has passed away. He is in a better place. Rarely, do you hear someone say, “he has died.” Why is this? Are we being sensitive to the subject, or have we become afraid of the word death?

 Different cultures and religions around the world have their own views about death. Most religions believe a spirit leaves the body after death and moves on to another place such as heaven or reincarnation. To acknowledge this act, most cultures have a strict ritual that takes place to insure the spirit has the appropriate journey to its final destination. 

Within the past 100 years, the process of how people live out their final days has changed. Before, loved ones would pass away in the comfort of their own homes and families. A couple of close family members were primary caregivers and they used their own medical cures and treatments rather than a doctor’s. The modern healthcare movement has placed more terminally ill patients in hospitals instead of the patients’ home.

 With the rise of hospices in the nation, it seems Americans are trying to learn how to accept death rather than defeat it. A hospice is designed to treat the patient, not the illness. This simple idea relieves a lot of stress from the patients and their families because the victory in a hospice is not beating the illness, but accepting it, along with the death that follows.

 Getting to the point of accepting and understanding death is something that can only be done through communication and education. Having someone close to share your emotions and beliefs about death without sparking a debate can help you become more comfortable with the subject. Also, educating yourself about cultures’ perspectives of death can help enrich your understanding and help bring closure.

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