BEHS 380 Week 2: The Death System
BEHS 380 Week 2: The Death System
What is a “death system?”
The is something cultures create as a kind of way to cope with their fears of death. The idea of a death system was created by Robert Kastenbaum who wanted to change the narrative that death was a personal concern and shift it to a larger scale where people would understand how the role of death changes the social order and society (2022). Every culture has a death system that involves several components of denial towards death. For instance, we believe we can prevent death with life saving medical resources and that is a form of denial (Hayslip, 2003). Kaustenbaum listed several different functions within a death system that most cultures try to fulfill. An example of this is disposing of the dead. Each culture has their own type of special ceremony or ritual such as a funeral when it comes to disposing of their dead (2022). These rituals ect., are all part of the death system of our individual cultures.
2. Explain two or three specific ways in which funeral ceremonies may contribute to maintaining social order — for families, for the larger society, or both. In your response, indicate any specific components of the death system (people, time, place, symbols) that are part of your answer.
One specific way in which funeral ceremonies contribute to maintaining social order is by providing a sense of stability and comfort when early grief can feel like such chaos (The role of ceremonies in bereavement). Funerals provide a sense of closure for families and I believe many elements of it fall in to the symbols component of the death system. For instance things such as picking a burial spot, a casket, a tombstone ect., all represent symbols that help us to obtain closure in saying goodbye to our loved ones. Going through the motions of planning the ceremony and picking out these things can be comforting as it gives us something to do in a time when we might feel very lost.
Another important way that ceremonies contribute to maintaining social order is they reassure the continuation of community (The role of ceremonies in Bereavement). Often in times of loss, as an individual we feel alone. People showing up to honor the deceased is a reminder that there is still life in the world and life to live, and that society will go on. Even if those moments we might feel like we’re at a standstill. I’ve often said that when my dad died in 2021 I kind of checked out for 6 months and don’t remember much details of that time. I was just going through the motions to get through the day until eventually I could truly rejoin society again. The world keeps moving even when we don’t. I think people are an important component to this example. People standing together as a community remind us as individuals that death is larger than just what we are personally feeling (The role of ceremonies in bereavement).
Discuss the kinds of losses and experiences of grief associated with the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Covid-19 pandemic has had a significant effect on just about everyone. Some in ways we haven’t begun to see or understand yet, but I imagine will show up down the road. One of the biggest things I have talked about with close friends and family throughout the pandemic is the negative impact that all of the isolation and loss is going to have on us not only individually, but as a society down the road. I had to do a ten day quarantine for a false negative after a funeral in the early pandemic days. Even though I continued to test negative after the initial positive we were being very careful as I was the primary caregiver for an aunt going through chemo at the time. I opted to do the full ten days just in case I was an asymptomatic case. The isolation after losing someone who was very close to me was hard. Afterward I was very anxious about potentially really catching the virus but was more afraid of another quarantine than the virus itself. Our reading indicated that there are several types of grief associated with the pandemic. Some examples of this are our own personal grief at losses whether it be people, jobs, ect. The healthcare workers experience anticipatory loss working with so many sick and dying patients which can have a long lasting negative effect, and leave them mentally and physically exhausted. (Zhai & Du, 2020). Many civilians, first responders, and healthcare workers have experienced multiple losses putting them in to an overload of grief (Zhai & Du, 2020). These kind of losses have a significant impact on our society. Some ways to combat this is to seek therapeutic help from mental health professionals who can teach coping strategies that are effective for that individuals particular situation and experiences form the pandemic. Knowing what to expect from the loss and grief that we are going through is also a big part of coping and combating some of the negative effects (Zhai & Du, 2020).
Advameg Inc. (2022). Death and dying. Encyclopedia of Death and Dying. Retrieved October 30, 2022, from http://www.deathreference.com/Da-Em/Death-System.html
Hayslip, B. (2003). Death Denial: Hiding and Camouflaging Death. In Handbook of Death and Dying. essay, Sage Publications.
The role of ceremonies in bereavement. The Role of Ceremonies in Bereavement | SELECTED Independent Funeral Homes. (n.d.). Retrieved October 30, 2022, from https://www.selectedfuneralhomes.org/Consumers/The-Value-of-a-Funeral/The-Role-of-Ceremonies-in-Bereavement
Zhai, Y., & Du, X. (2020). Loss and grief amidst covid-19: A path to adaptation and Resilience. Brain, Behavior, and Immunity, 87, 80–81. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.bbi.2020.04.053
According to this week’s resources, elements of the death system contribute to enhancing social stability. In this week’s discussion post, discuss the following:
- What is a ““
- Explain two or three specific ways in which funeral ceremonies may contribute to maintaining social order — for families, for the larger society, or both. In your response, indicate any specific components of the death system (people, time, place, symbols) that are part of your answer.
- Discuss the kinds of losses and experiences of grief associated with the COVID-19 pandemic.
An excellent response will be at least 3-4 paragraphs in length, using complete sentences and concise language. Please cite at least 3 of this week’s Learning Resources in your response.
Your initial post is due on Sunday evening at 11:59 p.m. ET. In addition to your main post, please respond to at least 2 other students’ posts by Tuesday evening at 11:59 p.m. ET. When responding to other students’ posts, make an effort to refer to something specific from the Learning Resources and/or and idea or an example that adds to the dialogue. Refer to the syllabus for more details about discussion participation.
Please be sure to use APA citations in your text and to include your reference list. When you refer to and/or discuss any resources, you need to include a citation for that source, such as: (Braincraft, 2015). For more info on APA style, visit the APA Citations and Style module in this online classroom.
- One primary post (New Topic) as your initial discussion post thread – min. 200 words/post
- Two secondary responses (Respond) to classmates – min. 100 words/post