Death education

Death education is education about death that focuses on the human and emotional aspects of death. Though it may include teaching on the biological aspects of death, teaching about coping with grief is a primary focus. Death education is formally known as thanatology. Thanatology stems from the Greek word thanatos, meaning death, and ology meaning a science or organized body of knowledge.[1] A specialist in this field is referred to as a thanatologist. Death education refers to the experiences and activities of death that one deals with. Death education also deals with being able to grasp the different processes of dying, talk about the main topics of attitudes and meanings toward death, and the after effects on how to learn to care for people that are affected by the death. The main focus in death education is teaching people how to cope with grief. Many people feel death education is a taboo and instead of talking about death and grieving, they hide it away and never bring it up to others. With the right education of death, the less of a taboo it will be.


Historically death education in American society has been seen as a taboo topic, not worthy of scholarly research or for educational purposes. In the 1960s pioneering professionals like that of Herman Feifel (1959), Elisabeth Kübler-Ross (1969), and Cicely Saunders (1967) encouraged behavioral scientists, clinicians, and humanists to pay attention and to study death-related topics. This initiated the death-awareness movement and began the widespread study of death-related behavior, developing new programs of care for the dying and bereaved, as well as new research on death-related attitudes.[2]


"Death is no enemy of life; it restores our sense of the value of living. Illness restores the sense of proportion that is lost when we take life for granted. To learn about value and proportion we need to honor illness, and ultimately to honor death."[3] Death education honors death by educating about death, dying, and bereavement to enrich personal lives, inform and guide individuals in their transactions with society, prepare individuals for their public roles as citizens, help prepare and support individuals in their professional and vocational roles, and lastly to enhance the ability of individuals to communicate effectively about death-related matters.[4]


One of the major organizations that educates people on death is Hospice. Hospice[5] offers support for the caregiver, and Hospice also offers information on what to expect before death and what the family can expect after death. One of the major subjects that hospice addresses within death are the myths that come along with death. Hospice will also walk caretakers through the signs and symptoms to look for that signify death. Hospice is an important type of care that helps spread and explain death education to the people. When people have a loved one that is not able to get anymore help from medication or doctors, it would be a good recommendation for them to go to hospice. They would be able to receive great support and comfort during the end of their life journey. Not only does hospice give care to the terminally ill, they also give grief suggestions to family members and close friends. "With proper care, proper support, and love, we can share the miracle that is life". The end of a person's life should be centered on being alive instead of being dead.


Students of a death education course need to clearly understand the complex knowledge of the subject, learn the five key areas of knowledge, and to learn the physical, psycho-social, behavioral, and cognitive aspects of death. The five key areas are: understanding the dying process, decision making for end of life, loss, grief, and bereavement, assessment and intervention, and traumatic death. Death education should be taught in perspective and one's emotional response should be proportionate to the occasion. In addition death education can be taught formally or informally. Formally planned death education is associated with learning in organized educational settings including: schools, colleges, graduate education, professional workshops, and volunteer training programs.[6]

Stages of Dying

in her book, In Death and Dying (1969), Elisabeth Kubler-Ross proposed the five stages of the dying process. Though her work has often been referred to as the "five stages of grief," the original work was based on her clinical observations of the psychosocial responses of terminally ill patients to their impending death. Much scholarly debate has surrounded the legitimacy of her five "stages"—denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. Experienced psychosocial clinicians have largely rejected the accuracy of the model because it addresses only emotional states, sets up false expectations of the process, and have not been empirically verified as a descriptive model.

The first stage is denial and isolation. When you first hear about a loved one who has a deathly illness your first instinct is to deny the reality of the situation. This is known as a defense mechanism because we block out the words by not fully processing them and also hide from the facts. The second stage is anger. Once the blocking out subsides the reality of the situation becomes overwhelming and the pain from the news emerges. The third stage is bargaining. This stage you will feel more vulnerable and helpless. In order to gain control again you'll start thinking of ways that would have made it better like: • "If only we had sought medical attention sooner…" • "If only we got a second opinion from another doctor…" • "If only we had tried to be a better person toward them…"

All of these are defense lines to try and protect us from the reality of pain in a lost one. The fourth stage is depression. In this stage there can be two different types of depression that you deal with. The first type of depression can be a more quiet and private feeling. The second type of depression is the kind where sadness and regret overtake your body and become the predominate factors in your life. The fifth and final stage is acceptance. This stage does not always reach everyone but for the people who actually get it should consider this stage as a gift. It does not mean that you will not be sad anymore but it does mean that there is going to be some kind of peace that you are able to reach with the loved one that died.


Even though people are still conservative towards the idea of death and dying, with help and the education of death, people will come to know death as a natural part of life that everyone will someday have to go through. Instead of being timid and scared of death, people will become comfortable towards the topic and be able to prepare for what will come in the future. Death education is not just for medical professionals and those dealing with the terminally ill but rather death education is beneficial to everyone for it reveals the importance of quality in living and the human search for meaning. "Dying was what human life moved toward and therefore dying was what a human being constantly prepared for."[7]


  1. ^ Corr, 2013, p. 5
  2. ^ Corr, 2013, p. 5
  3. ^ Frank, 2002, p. 120
  4. ^ Corr, 2013, p. 13-14
  5. ^ "Hospice Foundation of America". Archived from the original on 11 March 2013. Retrieved 19 March 2013.
  6. ^ Corr, 2013, p. 7
  7. ^ Moran, 2003
Association for Death Education and Counseling

The Association for Death Education and Counseling (ADEC) is a multidisciplinary professional membership organization committed to excellence in death education and supportive counseling in areas related to death, dying processes, loss, and grief.

Dead on arrival

Dead on arrival (DOA), also dead in the field and brought in dead (BID), indicates that a patient was found to be already clinically dead upon the arrival of professional medical assistance, often in the form of first responders such as emergency medical technicians, paramedics, or police.

In some jurisdictions, first responders must consult verbally with a physician before officially pronouncing a patient deceased, but once cardiopulmonary resuscitation is initiated, it must be continued until a physician can pronounce the patient dead.

Death Studies

Death Studies is a peer-reviewed academic journal published ten times a year by Routledge and sponsored by the Association for Death Education and Counseling - The Thanatology Association. It focuses on issues related to death, dying, bereavement, and death education.

Death messenger

Death messengers, in former times, were those who were dispatched to spread the news that an inhabitant of their city or village had died. They were to wear unadorned black and go door to door with the message, "You are asked to attend the funeral of the departed __________ at (time, date, and place)." This was all they were allowed to say, and were to move on to the next house immediately after uttering the announcement. This tradition persisted in some areas to as late as the mid-19th century.

Death notification

A death notification is the delivery of the news of a death to another person. It describes the moment a person receives the news of someone's death. There are many roles that contribute to the death notification process. The notifier is the person who delivers the death notice. Notifiers can be volunteers, medical personnel or law enforcement. The receiver is the designated person receiving the information about the deceased. Typically, the receiver is a family member or friend of the one who has died. Death education is provided for multiple types of jobs to deliver the news efficiently for each situation. A proper death notification allows the receiver to begin the grieving process. The history of death notification dates back to the existence of humankind, but there have always been different means of death notification. Before modern technology, death notification was done through telegram, as there were not the same means of transportation, which today allow for the more formal notification that is required. During the 1800s and early 1900s, death notification was not as complex a process as it is today. There were not the means to deliver a written notification, so notices were left at funeral homes. Today, there are more requirements to follow. One of these requirements being that the name of the deceased is not released to any outside sources until after 24 hours of the survivors being notified. One key reason being that the survivors are the first to find out in the formal manner.

Death rattle

Terminal respiratory secretions (or simply terminal secretions), known colloquially as a death rattle, are sounds often produced by someone who is near death as a result of fluids such as saliva and bronchial secretions accumulating in the throat and upper chest. Those who are dying may lose their ability to swallow and may have increased production of bronchial secretions, resulting in such an accumulation. Usually, two or three days earlier, the symptoms of approaching death can be observed as saliva accumulates in the throat, making it very difficult to take even a spoonful of water. Related symptoms can include shortness of breath and rapid chest movement. While death rattle is a strong indication that someone is near death, it can also be produced by other problems that cause interference with the swallowing reflex, such as brain injuries.It is sometimes misinterpreted as the sound of the person choking to death, or alternatively, that they are gargling.

Dignified death

Dignified death is a somewhat elusive concept often related to suicide. One factor that has been cited as a core component of dignified death is maintaining a sense of control. Another view is that a truly dignified death is an extension of a dignified life. There is some concern that assisted suicide does not guarantee a dignified death, since some patients may experience complications such as nausea and vomiting. There is some concern that age discrimination denies the elderly a dignified death.

Fan death

Fan death is a well-known superstition in Korean culture, where it is thought that running an electric fan in a closed room with unopened or no windows will prove fatal. Despite no concrete evidence to support the concept, belief in fan death persists to this day in Korea, and also to a lesser extent in Japan.

Funeral director

A funeral director, also known as an undertaker (British English) or mortician (American English), is a professional involved in the business of funeral rites. These tasks often entail the embalming and burial or cremation of the dead, as well as the arrangements for the funeral ceremony (although not the directing and conducting of the funeral itself unless clergy are not present). Funeral directors may at times be asked to perform tasks such as dressing (in garments usually suitable for daily wear), casketing (placing the human body in the coffin), and cossetting (applying any sort of cosmetic or substance to the best viewable areas of the corpse for the purpose of enhancing its appearance). A funeral director may work at a funeral home or be an independent employee.

Lazarus sign

The Lazarus sign or Lazarus reflex is a reflex movement in brain-dead or brainstem failure patients, which causes them to briefly raise their arms and drop them crossed on their chests (in a position similar to some Egyptian mummies). The phenomenon is named after the Biblical figure Lazarus of Bethany, whom Jesus Christ raised from the dead in the Gospel of John.

List of Bangladeshi architects

This list of Bangladeshi architects includes notable architects who were born in Bangladesh.


Megadeath (or megacorpse) is one million human deaths, usually caused by a nuclear explosion. The term was used by scientists and thinkers who strategized likely outcomes of all-out nuclear warfare.


A morgue or mortuary (in a hospital or elsewhere) is used for the storage of human corpses awaiting identification or removal for autopsy or respectful burial, cremation or other method. In modern times corpses have customarily been refrigerated to delay decomposition.


A necronym (from the Greek words νεκρός, nekros, "dead" and ὄνομα ónoma, "name") is a reference to, or name of, a person who has died. Many cultures have taboos and traditions associated with referring to such a person. These vary from the extreme of never again speaking the person's real name, often using some circumlocution instead, to the opposite extreme of commemorating it incessantly by naming other things or people after the deceased.

For instance, in some cultures it is common for a newborn child to receive the name (a necronym) of a relative who has recently died, while in others to reuse such a name would be considered extremely inappropriate or even forbidden. While this varies from culture to culture, the use of necronyms is quite common.


An obituary (obit for short) is a news article that reports the recent death of a person, typically along with an account of the person's life and information about the upcoming funeral. In large cities and larger newspapers, obituaries are written only for people considered significant. In local newspapers, an obituary may be published for any local resident upon death. A necrology is a register or list of records of the deaths of people related to a particular organization, group or field, which may only contain the sparsest details, or small obituaries. Historical necrologies can be important sources of information.

Two types of paid advertisements are related to obituaries. One, known as a death notice, omits most biographical details and may be a legally required public notice under some circumstances. The other type, a paid memorial advertisement, is usually written by family members or friends, perhaps with assistance from a funeral home. Both types of paid advertisements are usually run as classified advertisements.

Pallor mortis

Pallor mortis (Latin: pallor "paleness", mortis "of death"), the first stage of death, is an after-death paleness that occurs in those with light/white skin.

Rigor mortis

Rigor mortis (Latin: rigor "stiffness", mortis "of death"), or postmortem rigidity, is the third stage of death. It is one of the recognizable signs of death, characterized by stiffening of the limbs of the corpse caused by chemical changes in the muscles postmortem. In humans, rigor mortis can occur as soon as four hours after death.


Thanatology or deathlore is the scientific study of death and the losses brought about as a result. It investigates the mechanisms and forensic aspects of death, such as bodily changes that accompany death and the post-mortem period, as well as wider psychological and social aspects related to death. It is primarily an interdisciplinary study offered as a course of study at numerous colleges and universities.

The word is derived from the Greek language. In Greek mythology, Thanatos (θάνατος: "death") is the personification of death. The English suffix -ology derives from the Greek suffix -logia (-λογια: "speaking").

The Order of the Good Death

The Order of the Good Death is a death acceptance organization founded in 2011 by mortician and author Caitlin Doughty. The group advocates for natural burial and embracing human mortality.Along with Doughty, members include Sarah Chavez, Director of The Order of the Good Death, Megan Rosenbloom, Director of Death Salon, and Amber Carvaly, Director of Undertaking LA. Other notable members are artist and monument-maker Greg Lundgren, TED speaker Jae Rhim Lee, alternative funeral home director Jeff Jorgenson, artist Landis Blair, and other death professionals, artists and academics.The group held its first "death salon" in Los Angeles in 2013. Another salon was held in 2014 at St Bartholomew's Hospital Pathology Museum in London by museum curator Carla Valentine.The group took its name from the Brazilian Order of Our Lady of the Good Death.

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