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Dying and Death in Canada, Second Edition

Dying and Death in Canada, Second Edition

Herbert C. Northcott
Donna M. Wilson
Copyright Date: 2001
Pages: 214
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  • Book Info
    Dying and Death in Canada, Second Edition
    Book Description:

    "An exceptional resource for anyone interested in death and dying. Set in the Canadian context, readers travel through the historical, demographic, religious, economic, and cultural terrain that shapes contemporary notions of dying and death." - Laurie Clune, Ryerson University

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-0253-3
    Subjects: Sociology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. 1-4)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. 5-7)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. 8-8)
  4. Preface
    (pp. 9-10)

    • Chapter 1 The History of Dying and Death in Canada
      (pp. 13-34)

      Death is inevitable. All people die, and their dying follows a course that can range in length from only a few minutes to many years. The typical course of dying, the causes and timing of death, and the social response to death tend to vary from one society to another and from one historical time to another. Perhaps the greatest challenge in writing about death historically is finding sufficient meaningful information on deaths in the past. Until recently, and despite such early efforts as a 1678 Quebec law mandating the keeping of vital statistics (Harding le Riche, 1979), information on...

    • Chapter 2 Dying and Death in Canada Today
      (pp. 35-56)

      This chapter examines contemporary patterns of dying and death in Canada. It explores who experiences what terminal illnesses, when, and under what circumstances. Circumstances include the length and course of the dying process, and the timing and location of death. The chapter begins with a discussion of the current causes of death and then examines death by age, sex, and other variables.

      Figure 1 shows that the most common cause of death among Canadians in 1996 was circulatory disease, which accounted for close to 40 per cent of all deaths that year. Cancer was the second leading cause, accounting for...


    • Chapter 3 Dying and Death in the Context of Canadian Social Institutions
      (pp. 59-80)

      Death is a normal physiological event that occurs at the end of every life. Nevertheless, dying and death have many different meanings and implications for individuals as well as for Canadian society. Current views of dying and death, along with practices related to these phenomena, are extensively influenced by the social institutions that have developed in Canada over many years. Social institutions that are most relevant to dying and death are the family, religion, the health system, the legal system, and the funeral industry. Each of these institutions is undergoing change that has consequences for dying and death. This chapter...

    • Chapter 4 Dying and Death in the Context of Canadian Culture
      (pp. 81-104)

      This chapter explores cultural constructions of the meaning of dying and death and the resulting social responses to dying and death in Canada. Cultural constructions are evident in various forms including literature, television, everyday language, and folklore, as well as in the processes of medicalization, professionalization, and bureaucratization. Responses to dying and death include making sense of death, distinguishing between different types of death, stigmatizing dying and death, and observing social rituals accompanying death. Finally, there are ethnic variations in these cultural constructions and social responses.

      It has been argued that Canadian culture, along with that of other western societies,...


    • Chapter 5 Individual Perspectives on Dying and Death
      (pp. 107-132)

      Death presents an existential problem for the living: as an individual becomes more and more aware of the inevitability of death, questions arise about the meaning and purpose of one’s existence. How should one live, given that life ends in death? What is the meaning of life? What is the meaning of death? Furthermore, for those persons who are in the process of dying and who face imminent death, questions arise about how one should die and how dying itself can be made meaningful.

      The possibility of dying can be assessed in both statistical and psychological terms. Statistically, babies born...

    • Chapter 6 Survivor Perspectives on Dying and Death
      (pp. 133-158)

      This chapter examines perspectives on dying and death from the point of view of those persons who grieve the loss of a loved one. We begin with some brief comments on health care professionals. The primary focus of the chapter, however, is on the family and friends of the deceased.

      Dying and death generally take place in a social context involving both professional caregivers and family members. While the health care system tends to take control of dying and death, health care professionals are not always willing participants in the process of dying. As we discussed in chapter 3, doctors,...

  8. Conclusion
    (pp. 159-162)

    Dying and death reflect the material and social conditions of society. In the pre-contact era, living conditions for Aboriginal peoples in Canada were such that life expectancy was perhaps thirty to forty years, about the same as in Europe at that time. While death often came early in life for Aboriginal people, some individuals survived to old age. Nevertheless, dying and death were common, visible, and expected occurrences. Aboriginal social practices and cultural definitions reflected these realities and, in turn, shaped the experience of dying and death.

    Contact with Europeans brought devastation to the Aboriginal peoples of Canada. Infectious diseases...

  9. Appendix: Sources of Information on Dying and Death
    (pp. 163-166)
  10. References
    (pp. 167-186)
  11. Index
    (pp. 187-189)
  12. Back Matter
    (pp. 190-190)