The American Ways of Death

  • Michael R. Leming
  • George E. Dickinson


Like people from other cultures, Americans are bombarded with pressing issues of the day which involve death and death-related matters: the AIDS crisis, the prolongation of dying from cancer, the growing incidence of chronic illnesses with uncertain courses, murder, ecological disasters, foetal transplants and abortion. The topic of death is ‘alive and well’ in contemporary American society. Yet Americans tend to deal with death in the same way that Charlie Brown (the ‘hero’ from the popular American comic strip ‘Peanuts’) deals with life’s other problems: ‘There is no problem so big that you can’t run away from it.’ Consider the following facts:
  1. 1.

    Seventy per cent of all deaths take place in institutional settings — hospitals and nursing homes. Dying in the United States occurs ‘offstage’, away from the arena of familiar surroundings of kin and friends.

  2. 2.

    With less than 10 per cent of the United States population living on farms, birth and death scenes have largely been confined to television or to the worlds of health-care professionals and removed from personal observations of most individuals.



Death Anxiety Death Fear Terminal Patient Death Scene Grieve Process 
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Copyright information

© Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Limited 1997

Authors and Affiliations

  • Michael R. Leming
  • George E. Dickinson

There are no affiliations available

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