Rest in Peace: A Cultural History of Death and the Funeral Home in Twentieth-Century America

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In Rest in Peace , Gary Laderman traces the origins of American funeral rituals, from the evolution of embalming techniques during and after the Civil War and the shift from home funerals to funeral homes at the turn of the century, to the increasing subordination of priests, ministers, and other religious figures to the funeral director throughout the twentieth century.

Death And Dying Reference List

Sleeping Beauty is coveted for having played a large role in the rediscovery of the normalcy of postmortem photography. In , Dr. Stanley B. Two of the most authoritative voices on the funeral industry come together here in one volume to discuss the current state of the funeral.

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Through their different lenses—one as a preacher and one as a funeral director—Thomas G. When My Yiayia Died — Marjorie Kunch This uplifting hardcover picture book for ages beautifully illustrates the steps a family takes when a Greek Orthodox Christian loved one dies as told through the perspective of a little boy.

Religion, culture, social structures, the vitality of these rudimentary elements of communal life depends upon ritually putting the dead body in its place, managing the relations between the living and the dead, and providing explanations for the existence of death. Throughout human history the problem of bodily decay has had to be solved in a meaningful way—the social body cannot function without agreed upon principles to respond to the universal presence of dead bodies.

After death, the body once so critical to identity is fated to decompose, raising difficult questions about the very nature of individual and social identity. A body without life is immediately recognizable, usually because the face, the primary marker of identity, begins to change. Within a minute after the heart stops beating, the face begins to take on the unmistakable gray-white pallor of death; in an uncanny way, the features very soon appear corpse-like, even to those who have never before seen a dead body.

The body follows the face, emitting transparent visual and olfactory cues that, indeed, life is no more and.


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Rest in Peace

No cover image. I foolishly assumed it would be disrespectful to comment on such a tragedy in the white heat of the moment and, quite frankly, that it would lessen my chances for promotion to tenure since many faculty in the old days questioned the value of public scholarship. When John F.

Kennedy, Jr.

FUNERAL HOMES and Obituaries

So, when death is in the news, who are you going to call? I could be an expert in, say, Protestant theology, or Reform Judaism.

death and dying reference list

Unfortunately, the older I get the less comfortable I am with mortality in general. A brief spin through the channels on the television confirms it; a careful perusal of movies at the video store proves it; even the music we listen to speaks to it.


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So how do we live with death? A question as old as human life, of course, and a question whose urgency changes over the course of a lifetime. The older I get the more people I know die, a realization as disturbing as it is enlightening. But also a reality that in some strange way can bring solace and wisdom and despair and clarity and confusion.

In other words, a mixed though challenging assortment of possibilities that would make a great topic for an op-ed.


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Gary Laderman is chair of religion and professor of American religious history and cultures at Emory University. He is executive editor of Religion Dispatches. Be the first to know. Get our free daily newsletter.

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