State of the field of death in the United States

Authored by: George E. Dickinson

The Routledge Handbook of Death and the Afterlife

Print publication date:  June  2018
Online publication date:  June  2018

Print ISBN: 9781138682160
eBook ISBN: 9781315545349
Adobe ISBN:


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Historians divide death and bereavement in the United States into three periods: Living Death (1600–1830), Dying of Death (1830–1945), and Resurrection of Death (1945–present). Not unlike the event of death itself, the process of dying has changed in recent decades from acute illnesses to chronic diseases. Medical breakthroughs have helped to prolong life. The more lingering dying process has contributed to healthcare changes such as the evolution of hospice and the expansion of assisted living facilities in addition to advanced directives to give a choice to not keep one alive beyond what one might wish to have. Though slowly, physician assisted death is becoming legal, giving individuals self-autonomy over their lives. Mortal dilemmas are occurring due to ethical issues evolving from these dying and death changes.

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