Influence Of Religion And Culture On Death And Dying

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Religion and culture both have influence on views regarding death and dying in the Western World. This essay will show the impact this influence may have on views today.

Religion is defined in the Oxford English dictionary as “Belief… which is typically manifested in obedience, reverence, and worship; such a belief as part of a system defining a code of living, esp. as a means of achieving spiritual or material improvement.” (2014). Culture on the other hand is defined as “The distinctive ideas, customs, social behaviour, products, or way of life of a particular nation, society, people, or period. Hence: a society or group characterized by such customs, etc.” (Oxford English Dictionary, 2014). Although religion and culture are not the same thing, it would be wrong to say they are completely separate either. There are a number of religions practiced in the Western World which together should be seen as one dimension of culture.

One way in which religion can be seen as an influence on views is in the circumlocution found within the English language to describe death. Each religion is distinct and has its own beliefs about death and dying, they all view this as a natural
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Culturally, in the Western World today a lot of emphasis in caring for someone who is dying is the medicalization of this process, as explored by Kellehear “…people who live with life-threatening illnesses are able to ‘buy time’ from an array of medical, surgical and pharmacological interventions” (2009, p64). This is not to say that they will necessarily be “cured” of dying, but culturally it is expected that in order to have a good death, one should expect to live into old age. Any deviation from this, for example a person given a terminal diagnosis who declines treatment is seen as a bad decision regardless of the pain or distress such treatments may cause to the

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