Death Education History

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1. Summarize the history of death education. Include important documents, theologies, and philosophies in your answer. According to Kastenbaum (2012), “there were few if any “experts” in death a half a century ago (although there were people with skills in specific areas, such as the funeral director).” Since those who provided counseling to the dying or grieving were not formally trained, the death awareness movement and death education was established based on a need to bring concern for “the human encounter with mortality into the awareness of caregivers, educators and researchers within existing disciplines” (p. 97). Considered pioneers of thanatology were people in the fields of anthropology, clergy, nursing, medicine, psychology, …show more content…
Exposure to human and animal corpses was commonplace. The death education that existed was the procedures in handling these situations being passed down from one generation to the next. During this time, death was often depicted in artistic mediums as the danse macabre and usually portrayed as “a skeletal figure who laid claim to all mortal souls, whether low or high born” (Kastenbaum, 2002). During the renaissance in the 1400’s, the use of Christian guidebooks, the Ars moriendi became a significant tradition and death educational tool (“literally-the art of dying well”). The books described briefly certain rituals to be performed on the deathbed. Although primitive in its illustrations and fantasy filled dramatic scenes of the dying person under assault by Satan’s legions and surrounded by angels’ encouraging the resistance to temptations (the ultimate battle of good and evil), the Ars moriendi does however correlate to some beliefs and concerns of the death awareness movement. According to Kastenbaum (2012, p. 467) these include:
(a) the view that how a person dies is a significant matter; therefore, (b) some deaths are better than others; so (c) a “good death” is a real achievement, and (d) flows more readily from a life that has been lived in the recognition of mortality, with (e) the support
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“The counselor can restore self-confidence, relaxation, and a renewed sense of still being a valuable and lovable person. This, more positive psychological state can have a favorable effect on bodily response” (Kastenbaum, 2012, pp. 472-473). Another approach is psycho-dynamic therapy which is adapted to time constraints according to each individual case. As stated by Culkin (2002):
The psycho-dynamic approach is primarily concerned with the emotional conflicts and defense mechanisms of the individual. A major goal of dynamic therapy with the dying is to help the person recognize, confront, and replace the defenses which run counter to an emotionally healthy attitude toward death. In the process it may be necessary to try to work through some long-standing problems and fixations which are intensified by the death

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