The Amish way of death: A study of family support systems

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Abstract

Discusses the fact that coping with death is becoming increasingly difficult in society today. Science and technology have replaced belief and ritual, most deaths take place in institutional settings rather than in the home, and the high rate of mobility of the nuclear family lessens the opportunities for experiencing life and death within an extended-network support system. The author considers that the centrality of the family in Amish society and the unchanged function of the family unit present a rare opportunity to study relational support systems that have been successful in coping with death for the past 400 yrs. 24 Amish families were interviewed in 5 areas: family structure, group structure, funeral customs and rituals of mourning, personal experience with death, and personal feelings about death. Implications are presented for psychosocial issues in contemporary society in terms of improving the quality of life and death for the dying, their families, and the professionals involved in their care. (21 ref) (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2006 APA, all rights reserved)

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