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By Allan Kellehear

Our studies of loss of life were formed by means of historical rules approximately loss of life and social accountability on the finish of existence. From Stone Age principles approximately demise as otherworld trip to the modern Cosmopolitan Age of loss of life in nursing houses, Allan Kellehear takes the reader on a 2 million yr trip of discovery that covers the most important demanding situations we are going to all ultimately face: watching for, getting ready, taming and timing for our eventual deaths. it is a significant evaluate of the human and scientific sciences literature approximately human loss of life behavior. The historic technique of this booklet locations our contemporary photos of melanoma death and remedy in broader ancient, epidemiological and international context. Professor Kellehear argues that we're witnessing an increase in shameful kinds of death. it's not melanoma, middle illness or scientific technological know-how that offers sleek death behavior with its maximum ethical checks, yet fairly poverty, growing old and social exclusion.

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Otherworld journeys at times of short lives, violent deaths and small-scale economies generate different challenges and exert different social pressures than long life expectancies, chronic illnesses and medieval economies, for example. And although there may be great variation in the content, colour and even sophistication of these responses we can characterise those responses in a structural if not uniform way. I do not challenge region-specific responses. I do not argue that the challenges I identify are the only ones identifiable, but I do argue that at least these have prompted other subsequent ones that currently influence us.

And so the very personal and internal ‘me’ may not be so entirely absent from dying but rather somewhat removed from the place where we, as modern readers, would initially and automatically situate that ‘me’. The Stone Age dying self is dispersed in a broader identity with the group’s broader identity before and after death. Next to the suddenness of death and the displacement of dying, this is the third important feature of dying during this period of human history. Finally, if most of one’s dying occurred elsewhere (in the afterworld) and most of the tasks of dying belonged to others, the only characteristic of dying that remained to Stone Age people was that they could anticipate it.

We assume dying must occur before death. But Lucas (1996) suggests that for late Stone Age people (in fact, early Bronze Age, about 6000 years ago) dying may have been part of death itself. Dying may not have preceded biological death in the way that we commonly assume today. In fact, a large portion of what we assume today to be a post-death journey in the afterlife might have been viewed by our Stone Age ancestors as ‘dying’. Dying, viewed in this way as a post-death activity, means that death becomes a process of what Lucas calls ‘ancestralisation’, a rite of passage in three stages.

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