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Encyclopedia of Death and the Human Experience

Encyclopedia of Death and the Human Experience

Two Volume Set
Edited by:

July 2009 | 1 160 pages | SAGE Publications, Inc

Death and dying and death-related behavior involve the causes of death and the nature of the actions and emotions surrounding death among the living. Interest in the varied dimensions of death and dying has led to the development of death studies that move beyond medical research to include behavioral science disciplines and practitioner-oriented fields. As a result of this interdisciplinary interest, the literature in the field has proliferated.


This two-volume resource addresses the traditional death and dying–related topics but also presents a unique focus on the human experience to create a new dimension to the study of death and dying. With more than 300 entries, the Encyclopedia of Death and the Human Experience includes the complex cultural beliefs and traditions and the institutionalized social rituals that surround dying and death, as well as the array of emotional responses relating to bereavement, grieving, and mourning. The Encyclopedia is enriched through important multidisciplinary contributions and perspectives as it arranges, organizes, defines, and clarifies a comprehensive list of death-related perspectives, concepts, and theories.


Key Features

  • Imparts significant insight into the process of dying and the phenomenon of death
  • Includes contributors from Asia,; Africa; Australia; Canada; China; eastern, southern, and western Europe; Iceland; Scandinavia; South America; and the United States who offer important interdisciplinary and cross-cultural perspectives
  • Provides a special focus on the cultural artifacts and social institutions and practices that constitute the human experience
  • Addresses death-related terms and concepts such as angel makers, equivocal death, end-of-life decision making, near-death experiences, cemeteries, ghost photography, halo nurses, caregiver stress, cyberfunerals, global religious beliefs and traditions, and death denial
  • Presents a selective use of figures, tables, and images


Key Themes

  • Arts, Media, and Popular Culture Perspectives
  • Causes of Death
  • Conceptualization of Death, Dying, and the Human Experience
  • Coping With Loss and Grief: The Human Experience
  • Cross-Cultural Perspectives
  • Cultural-Determined, Social-Oriented, and Violent Forms of Death
  • Developmental and Demographic Perspectives
  • Funerals and Death-Related Activities
  • Legal Matters
  • Process of Dying, Symbolic Rituals, Ceremonies, and Celebrations of Life
  • Theories and Concepts
  • Unworldly Entities and Events


With an array of topics that include traditional subjects and important emerging ideas, the Encyclopedia of Death and the Human Experience is the ultimate resource for students, researchers, academics, and others interested in this intriguing area of study.





"With a focus on the actions, emotions, beliefs, and traditions of the human experience, this interdisciplinary compendium of approximately 330 lengthy entries provides an excellent reference to the cycle of dying, the social-psychological emotions, and the cultural constructs surrounding the process.... Entries provide effective, clear, multifaceted overviews that cover appropriate issues, practices, beliefs, customs, and trends."-CHOICE

J. A. Adams-Volpe
University at Buffalo, SUNY
Key features
  • Multidisciplinary, cross-cultural, and curricular-driven, the encyclopedia encompasses perspectives from psychologists, anthropologists, sociologists, philosophers, social workers, gerontologists, psychiatrists, attorneys, theologians, historians, individuals from the funeral, cemetery and life insurance fields, physicians, and ministers, priests and rabbis.
  • Authoritative and comprehensive, the two volumes include 325 signed entries by experts in the field, both research scholars and in-service practitioners, who cover traditional subjects and important emerging ideas and provide suggested readings to guide users to resources for further information.
  • Easy to use and search, a Reader's Guide in the front matter organizes entries by broad thematic areas, cross-references at the end of each entry guide readers to related entries, robust search features are included in the electronic version, and the entire work concludes with a detailed index.
  • The 16 Readers Guide categories include: Arts, Media, & Popular Culture; Body Disposition; Causes of Death; Coping with Loss & Grief; Cross-Cultural Perspectives; Developmental & Demographic Perspectives; Funerals & Related Activities; Legal Matters; Mass Death; Medical Conditions & Treatments; Process of Dying; Religion; Rituals, Ceremonies, & Celebrations; Suicide, Euthanasia, & Homicide; Theories & Concepts; Unworldly Entities & Events.
  • Highly accessible, entries have been written with a range of readers in mind so that, by intent, they prove useful to lay readers in public libraries as well as scholars and students in academic environments. In addition, selective use of charts and illustrations is designed to enhance the text, as in entries on death-related clothing and fashion, funeral conveyances, or Day of the Dead.
  • Availability in both print and electronic formats provides students with convenient, easy access wherever they may be.

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ISBN: 9781452266169

ISBN: 9781412951784

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