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Dying and Death in a Collapse Situation

•, by Irish Eyes
Our culture reacts to the topic of death much like the Victorians reacted to the topic of sex. We avoid even using the word “died” or “dead”, preferring euphemisms such as “passed”. With the more widely spread use of hospice and palliative care teams, families are learning that helping their loved ones through the dying process can be a rich and healing time. However, the dying process is still rather reminiscent of childbirth 30-40 years ago, when fathers and other family members were shut out, and the mothers in labor were left to labor alone and in pain, or drugged. Too often the dying find themselves in similar situations, isolated from family and away from home.

Contrast the process of dying in our not so distant past, and in current non-westernized cultures, with that of many American families today. In the past, the family would be responsible for caring for their loved one through the dying process, preparing the body for burial, sitting in vigil with the body as everyone told stories and remembered the person, and finally committing the body to the ground with prayer and other important rituals. Now, often due to anxiety about the whole process, the family often chooses to have the person die in the hospital, be whisked away by funeral home personnel to be attended to. Cremation avoids the uncomfortable issue of being in the presence of a dead body, and if cremation isn’t done, the body certainly must not be seen as that might be too “creepy”.  

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