Modern Mourning: New Ways We Honor Our Dead

October 26, 2013

from Discovery News

We humans have never been particularly comfortable with death. That’s entirely understandable, of course. Death is permanent and largely unpleasant and we don’t know what — if anything — is on the other side. For millennia, various cultural and religious rituals have helped us process our feelings about death, providing comfort when a loved one dies.

But those rituals are fast disappearing in our increasingly secularized society — and we actually really need them. That’s the contention of author and professor Candi K. Cann in her forthcoming book, “Virtual Afterlives: Grieving the Dead in the 21st Century.” In her research, Cann identifies several emerging trends in modern culture that seem to suggest we’re searching for new ways to live with death.

“We’re seeing a disappearance of the rituals surrounding the dead,” Cann said. “We’re not really supposed to grieve out in public, at work, in front of people. So you see this dichotomy of what’s almost an obsession with death — all the vampire movies and zombie movies — but at the same time there’s a disappearance of grief and grieving.”

Cann said that, for those people who don’t participate in traditional or religious mourning rituals, there’s a movement toward do-it-yourself memorializations. People are finding new and often technology-driven ways to honor the dead.

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