BEHS 380 The Death System

BEHS 380 The Death System

BEHS 380 The Death System

The death system is a fundamental concept established by Robert Kastenbaum that provides a framework for appropriate practices within society during the demise of an individual. The death system defines the interpersonal, sociocultural, and symbolic matrix that arbitrates a person’s death and its effects on society and social order (MacMurray et al., 2021). This system highlights pertinent issues in contemporary death management practices with the provision of appropriate integrative solutions that considers aspects of an individual’s life such as culture. These considerations may impact decision-making regarding end-of-life care and practices.

The death system is composed of four distinct elements. These include people who play different roles during death,

BEHS 380 The Death System
BEHS 380 The Death System

time which describes the exact day of death and reflection from subsequent anniversaries, the place of death and other places which involve the deceased, and symbols that encompass objects associated with death (MacMurray et al., 2021). There is an inevitable interaction of these components during the funeral and send of ceremonies. Funeral ceremonies play a critical role in enhancing social order in several ways. They are integral in the provision of support to the family, showing respect to the deceased and their families, extending community-based social relationships, and resolution of guilt and loss-related stress (Kim et al., 2019). Funeral ceremonies also form the grounds for the social exchange of duties and responsibilities as well as enhance social mutual partnerships (Shimane et al., 2019). The contemporary death system is, however, leading to the disengagement of societal roles in funeral ceremonies with the commercialization and professionalization of these services.

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The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic wrought devastating effects on the livelihoods of many individuals. The types of losses that were experienced include untimely demise and threatened loss of loved ones, loss of physical contact and social networks, loss of livelihoods from unemployment and financial insecurity, and loss of pre-Covid normal ways of life (Walsh et al., 2020). The loss of loved ones is an agony to the bereaved families and friends. The grieving process was marred with shock, disbelief, anger, and sorrow made worse by the limitations in interactions between the infected individuals, their families, and society at large.

References

Kim, K., Churilov, L., Huang, A., & Weinberg, L. (2019). Bereavement practices employed by hospitals and medical practitioners toward attending the funeral of patients. Medicine, 98(36). https://doi.org/10.1097/md.0000000000016692

MacMurray, N., & Futrell, R. (2021). Ecological Death Reform and Death System Change. Omega, 83(4), 859–883. https://doi.org/10.1177/0030222819869485

Shimane, K. (2018). Social bonds with the dead: How funerals transformed in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 373(1754), 20170274. https://doi.org/10.1098/rstb.2017.0274

Walsh, F. (2020). Loss and resilience in the time of Covid‐19: Meaning-making, hope, and transcendence. Family Process, 59(3), 898–911. https://doi.org/10.1111/famp.12588