Though death is universal, how we respond to it depends on when and where we live. Dying and grieving continually evolve: new preparations for dying, new kinds of funerals, new ways of handling grief and new ways to memorialise are developing all the time.
Bringing 25 years of research and teaching in the sociology of death and dying to this important book, Tony Walter engages critically with key questions such as: should we talk about death more and plan in advance? How effective is this as more people suffer frailty and dementia? How do physical migration and digital connection affect place-bound deathbeds, funerals and graves? Is the traditional funeral still relevant? Can burial and cremation be ecological? And how should we grieve: quietly, openly, or online?
Tony Walter is a sociologist who writes, lectures and consults on death and society. He was director of the University of Bath’s Centre for Death & Society where he is now an honorary professor. His books include Basic Income (1988), Funerals – and how to improve them (1990), Pilgrimage in Popular Culture (1993), The Revival of Death (1994), On Bereavement: the culture of grief (1999) and Social Death (2016).
What’s the problem?;
Good to talk?;
A better way to die?;
What are professionals good at?;
Why hold a funeral?;
How to dispose of bodies?;
How to mourn?;
Distance & the digital: how to connect?;
"In this new work, Walter's encyclopaedic and critical gaze has produced another volume of analysis to be reckoned with." Allan Kellehear, University of Bradford
"Tony Walter brings scholarship and personal experience to this work, resulting in a book which offers a thought provoking read, suitable for both general readers and those with specialist knowledge." Glenys Caswell, University of Nottingham
"Tony Walter's intelligent and fascinating analysis of dying, disposal and our continuing relationship with the dead will make us all think again." Colin Murray Parkes, President of Cruse Bereavement Care
"An essential read...accessible, informative and critical, this pithy book challenges scholars and general readers alike to interrogate popular ideas about contemporary death and dying." Julie Ellis, University of Sheffield