“View Death Vertically”–Premortem Follow Up

 View Death Vertically

          The attitudes towards death shift from different cultures and their traditions. It is also important to view death vertically, viewing death in different eras in human history.

          From the 15th century to the late 20th century, human’s attitudes towards death have shifted a lot. In the15th and 16th century, the stage is called “Dance of the dead”. “This change to death becoming autonomous and part of human life rather than due to the intervention of a foreign agent, led to a coexistence of death as a separate agent with the immortal soul, divine providence and angels and demons. The dance’ represents a change from death being a transition into the next world to the accent being placed on the end of this life, and that as institutions gave way in the Middle Ages people were thrown back on themselves to provide their own meaning and purpose in life. Death became a force of nature with which to do battle.”[i]This stage of attitudes is a lot like the attitudes we talked in class, submission, which is more primitive and based on religions. Those religious beliefs still exist in our modern world, as we show in the podcast.

          Later in the 17-18th century, human’s attitudes started to shift. The attitude of avoidance occurred. People paid for good health in old age to avoid death and prolong their lives. Due to the Industrial Revolution, the medical technique developed. Thus, it was possible for the middle classes to employ doctors to tell death when to strike. This stage is called “Bourgeois Death”.[ii]In the 19th century, as the medical industry developed better, more hospitals were open to the public and more vaccinations were invented. This stage, “Clinical Death”, therefore originated in the emerging professional consciousness of the new scientifically trained doctor.[iii]We also discussed this in the class that death is a social thing because the middle and upper-class people can afford the price to employ better doctors to prevent them from death better.

          In the middle of the 20th century, the stage shifted to “Health as a commodity”. “Health has become a commodity undermining the unique spiritual and intellectual strength of the human race which enables them to rise to the challenges of dying and death.”[iv]“Social death is the next stage in the developed model and is directly due to the grieving process and its associated rituals no longer being observed.”[v]A lot of death practices and rituals no longer exist in modern western society. Death has become industrialized and professionalized. Lack of traditional rituals eventually makes death become something generalized and socialized. We discussed this attitude in the class. Death has become social because modern professional and industrial death practices require more social interactions. We also show the attitudes different from this in the podcast that modern death industry may not contribute to social death anymore. Rather, those cultural traditions provide more symbols of death as a social event.“Individuals cannot avoid death. However, they have woken up to the fact that there is no cure for mortality, that there are limits to life and that it is essential to recognize this so that they can learn to live positively and without the fear of death.”[vi]Death itself should no longer be considered as a cold and tormenting. Rather, it is a warm and authentic moment of human’s life, as we propose in our podcast


[i]O’gorman, S. (1998). Death and dying in contemporary society: an evaluation of current attitudes and the rituals associated with death and dying and their relevance to recent understandings of health and healing. Journal of Advanced Nursing, 27(6), pp.1127-1135.

[ii]O’gorman, S. (1998). Death and dying in contemporary society: an evaluation of current attitudes and the rituals associated with death and dying and their relevance to recent understandings of health and healing. Journal of Advanced Nursing, 27(6), pp.1127-1135.

[iii]O’gorman, S. (1998). Death and dying in contemporary society: an evaluation of current attitudes and the rituals associated with death and dying and their relevance to recent understandings of health and healing. Journal of Advanced Nursing, 27(6), pp.1127-1135.

[iv]O’gorman, S. (1998). Death and dying in contemporary society: an evaluation of current attitudes and the rituals associated with death and dying and their relevance to recent understandings of health and healing. Journal of Advanced Nursing, 27(6), pp.1127-1135.

[v]O’gorman, S. (1998). Death and dying in contemporary society: an evaluation of current attitudes and the rituals associated with death and dying and their relevance to recent understandings of health and healing. Journal of Advanced Nursing, 27(6), pp.1127-1135.

[vi]O’gorman, S. (1998). Death and dying in contemporary society: an evaluation of current attitudes and the rituals associated with death and dying and their relevance to recent understandings of health and healing. Journal of Advanced Nursing, 27(6), pp.1127-1135.

URL: https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1046/j.1365-2648.1998.00659.x

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