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Existential and Humanistic Approaches to Death

The purpose of this research is to examine the existential and humanistic approach to death and dying. It will briefly discuss attitudes toward death throughout the history of man's various civilizations and religions. Primarily, the paper will deal with the ideas concerning death which have been held by existentialists who have been involved in the treatment of the dying and others who have been involved in death solely as members of mankind - and therefore as ones who must face it at sometime themselves.

The idea of immortality has been common to most of man's answers regarding the consequences to the dead person of having died. The ancient Mesopotamians believed in a dismal underworld full of misery. The ancient Egyptians, on the other hand, believed that death could contain all the comforts and amusements of the earthly life. To that end, they filled the tombs of their pharaohs with paintings and sculptures of servants, animals, festivities and sporting events; when the wandering ka returned to the body of the dead man, he would then have all the things around him for his pleasure. The Etruscan forerunners of the Romans also sculpted tools and foodstuffs into the stone of their burial mounds - which were carved out to resemble houses. They laid their dead on beds. In the tombs of the richer people, the beds were located in a room behind the apparent main "living" area. These tombs often had servants' quarters near their entrances. In this way the families and their servants could continue after death with a similar life to the one which they had enjoyed on the earth.

Christian concepts of death, too, have centered around the existence of an afterlife. The soul of the dead person may find bliss or punishment in the traditional Christian afterlife. Death is therefore the door to eternity, the way in which one is "born unto eternal life." Death is frightening in the Christian concept, as it means that the person ...

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Existential and Humanistic Approaches to Death. (2000, January 01). In Retrieved 03:46, February 20, 2017, from