Death Denied

871 Words4 Pages
Winston Churchill once said, “I am ready to meet my Maker. Whether my Maker is prepared for the ordeal of meeting me is another matter.” Winston Churchill was a funny man, but he has summed up what the majority of the western culture views about death and meeting your maker. The idea of meeting a “maker” hasn’t always been the most popular of views on death though. Throughout centuries, globally, humans have been changing their views on the idea of death: what it is and where it takes them. As technologies and cultures change, so do the ideas of death along with it. “Up until around the sixteenth century death was thought to occur when heartbeat and breathing stopped”(Chapter 55). With increasing knowledge about the body and its conditions through new medical technologies this idea faded fast. The new found knowledge of artificial respiration and the use of it to revive the “dead” shook our ideas of what death really was. “In 1774 in Italy, the first case of electric shock was used to resuscitate a ‘dead’ man”(Chapter 55). Soon these methods of reviving became the tests in which to prove the actual death of a human being. Later technologies such as the stethoscope and other “electrical tests for neuromuscular functions and the thermometer to measure body heat” (Chapter 55) became the norm in which to provide enough evidence for doctors to declare that the person was actually dead. In todays society “defining death is complicated now due to two advances in biomedical technology: (1) artificial devices sustain respiration and heartbeat indefinitely, even though there is no brain activity and (2) transplants that require people be declared dead at the earliest possible moment to make their organs available to others”(Chapter 56). ... ... middle of paper ... ...o keep our eyes from anything resembling death at a funeral of all places. Our society has shifted from family members cleaning dead bodies on their kitchen tables and having open caskets, to some stranger cleaning our dead relative and never seeing the body of the dead at the funeral. We now mourn in private and don’t want others to know the hurt of such a tragedy. This is a huge pendulum swing from the ancient Greeks who would pull out their hair and shave their heads as a sign of mourning. Luckily, sociologists are seeing the pendulum begin to swing back to public mourning. Works Cited Chapter Four: “Historical Attitudes Toward Death and Dying”. 48-61. Katsouda, Emmanuela, Kyriaka Mystakidou, Efi Parpa, Eleni Tsilika and Lambros Vlahos. 2004-2005. “Death and Grief in the Greek Culture.” Omega. 50(1): 23-34. Karner, Tracy. Lecture Notes and Discussions.
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