Summarize the history of death education.

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

It is difficult to gauge the past history of death education.  For so long, death had been an issue that resided in the realm of personal religious beliefs or spiritual identity.  To complicate matters regarding death education, there was a social taboo that prevented a wide open and public discussion about the nature of death.  Death was seen as private and thus individuals could not engage in free discussion about its implications and become better educated.  It is interesting to note that one of the most universal experiences was seen at one point in time as one of the most private ones.  

One significant moment in the history of death education was Dr. Kubler- Ross' work, On Death and Dying.  Her work is significant on a couple of levels.  The first that it was the first significant publicizing of death education on a national and international level.  Her work was received by both the academic/ scientific community and the public at large.  Dr. Ross' disaggregation of death into the five stages helped to capture the public's understanding of how to appropriate death.  The experience of death itself and how to care for someone who is dying were both aspects of Dr. Ross' work that end up becoming very large in the history of death education.  Her continued work in this realm was significant.  It is not a coincidence that with Dr. Ross' work, national associations for the advancement of death education were established.  

In the modern setting, the internet plays a large role in death education.  The learning of death has become a more public issue, allowing public discourse.  This has been evident with the emergence of information technology facilitating online communities of support and enhancement regarding death education.  The private taboo aspect of death education has been replaced with a more wider and public discourse of the issue.  Death is still something where  total comprehension is lacking.  Yet, there is a greater willingness to talk about it in the modern setting.

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