Making Sense of Dying and Death

ddlogoMaking Sense of Dying and Death

This inclusive interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary research and publications project aims to create a forum for examining the links between living and dying, and some of the contradictions and paradoxes which arise that we appear to accept without question. Key themes include

1. Kinds of Deaths: for instance, euthanasia, abortion, suicide, homicide, neonatal and infant death, accidents, natural disasters, sudden death, terminal illness/death, capital punishment, acts of terrorism; death of a child, parent, spouse.

2. Philosophical, Ethical and Religious Issues in Dying and Death ; the nature of dying and death (e.g. does an aborted foetus die?); philosophies of dying and death; grounds for justifying and/or condoning death (e.g., suicide, euthanasia); the difference between seeking death and facing death bravely. When is living to be feared more than death – or vice versa? Facing, or even choosing, death in order to kill others. Concepts of afterlife and their influence on the dying, theologies of death, near death experiences; faith and secularism in death rituals; the role of hope, expiation and forgiveness.

3. Bereavement; Grief, loss and anger; ‘models’ and theories of grief and their adequacy with respect to different kinds of deaths; can grief be shared? Grief counselling and grief therapy; forms of remembrance, sites of remembrance, what do they reveal and what might they conceal?

4. The Representation of Dying and Death – art, all forms of literature, cinema, music, radio and television; death and dying in children’s literature; children’s concepts of mortality, violence and death.

5. Contradictions and Paradoxes: examples may include sudden death Vs our ability or desire to postpone death; horror at genocide Vs our appetite for films about ending lives in violent ways; respect for horror and grief Vs the tendency to wallow in their “mediatised” forms; terrorism Vs warfare; being informed Vs being de-sensitised by the media.

6. Technology, Dying and Death; the impact of advances in medical technology; social expectations of medical possibilities; the double-edged sword – technology as helper Vs technology as killer (e.g., lethal injection, vaginal aspiration, gas chambers).

7. The Management of Dying and Death. Hospitals and the limits of responsibility, e.g. (the imposition of) intensive care and aggressive treatment for dying patients; unacknowledged euthanasia; ageing and dying; care homes or waiting rooms for death; the hospice movement; limits to the humanising of death; whose decisions?

8. Legal Issues in Dying and Death; legal definitions of death, court rulings and decisions, the right to die, natural death and brain death statutes, advance directives and living wills; organ donation, organ transplantation; who ‘owns’ the corpse?