I recently came across a news article about a 9 year old boy who passed away suddenly after collapsing while walking to his neighbor’s home to deliver cookies. The statement released by the boy’s father was heartbreaking. The news report has been shared all over social media, accompanied by heartfelt condolences from strangers across the country. The death of this boy and the response it created in the community made me wonder how the intensity of grief can vary depending on how the death occurred. We discussed in class how the death of a young child results in a different type of grief from both the parents and the community because a child was not given a fair chance at life. This aspect is obvious in the case of this young boy because he had his whole life ahead of him. However, I think the aspect of a sudden death increases the intensity of grief because there are no warning signs. The unknown is many people’s greatest fear and if a death is very unexpected it could create a more intense grief. Thus, the death of a loved one may be even more difficult to accept and move on from. The loss of a child is hard enough and the addition of not being able to prepare for a loss, especially something biological that is out of the child and parent’s control, creates an even worse situation. I think it is easier for us to accept death if there is a concrete reason for the passing of a loved one. A sudden death could result in a parent or loved one blaming themselves, even if there is nothing they could have done to save the deceased.
AboutThis blog is a platform of communication for a college course at Emory entitled "The Anthropology of Death and Burial". The purpose is to use this blog to invite the world into our classroom by drawing on current events or phenomena that surround us and that are relevant to our exploration into the topic of death and how people deal with it. The course is explicitly cross-disciplinary and besides anthropology we also explore the topic of death through the lens of biology, history, religious studies, medicine, law, philosophy, sociology, literature and art. Feel welcome to explore and participate!
Who we areThe contributors to this blog are all undergraduate students at Emory University in Atlanta GA (USA). The course is taught by Dr. Liv Nilsson Stutz who is an archaeologists with a special interest in mortuary archaeology and ritual studies. She is also a regular contributor.
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