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Clark's work in particular provides an excellent ethnographic account of how, over time, the management of dying and death in Staithes, a small fishing village in North Yorkshire, ceased to be community centred and managed. A significant amount of sociological work has been conducted on the experiences of bereavement e. Hockey , Littlewood Both Walter and Riches and Dawson have produced books based on empirical research and personal experiences that have made a significant contribution to understanding how grief is experienced and managed at both an individual and societal level.

Hockey et al. The introductory chapters to each section of the book provide the theoretical context for the chapters which follow. Currer's book Responding to Grief: Dying, Bereavement and Social Care provides the social care practitioner with an introduction to the notion of grief and grieving. Currer, who has a background in social work, provides a useful overview of some of the research literature in this area, drawing on relevant sociological work.

As Currer states in her introductory chapter, however, this book does not seek to be a sociological account of grief, but rather one designed to assist practitioners involved in caring for people at this difficult time, and to highlight gaps in service knowledge and provision, and identify support and training needs from this.

The book is easy to read and it will be useful to those social care practitioners whose work may bring them into contact with people who have been bereaved. For my own part, I found the use of personal examples of people's experiences of grief illuminating, but, having read the book, I am still rather uncertain about the sources of these accounts. One area of care at the end of life which sociologists have been notably absent in considering is that of spiritual care. Cobb, himself an ordained Anglican minister with experience of working within hospitals and hospices, draws on a range of literature to explore the problematic nature of providing spiritual care at the end of life.

Spiritual care is ensconced as a fundamental part of the provision of palliative care, but Cobb illustrates how this central theme is so difficult to achieve in practice.


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Cobb's call for a more reflexive awareness of spirituality is surely timely, as indeed is his repeated call to develop ways of evaluating and understanding spiritual care. Where palliative care is extended towards a more generic form then it is probable that spiritual care will develop in new ways shaped by those living and dying with terminal disease other than cancer. This is a fascinating read and would be of interest to anyone concerned with palliative care generally, and the provision of spiritual care specifically.

In terms of researching dying, death and bereavement, sociologists have had a significant impact on the kinds of approaches and methods used. I would argue that it has been a particular achievement of sociologists that, in a medical field which has a dominant quantitative research paradigm, qualitative research has become increasingly used and valued by all.

It is imperative, as Clark et al. Divided into three parts: Key methods for researching palliative care, Clinical research in palliative care and Needs assessment, audit and evaluation, this book brings together many previously published pieces relating to a broad spectrum of palliative care. It is a worthwhile acquisition for those coming to research in this field for the first time. As well as exploring quantitative approaches, the book also examines qualitative methodology and Clark's chapter considering the contribution such methods can make to palliative care research is much welcomed, and presented in a persuasive and accessible manner.

Equally, given the increasingly stringent ethical requirements, Wilkie provides a useful aide memoire to the researcher poised to embark on research for the first time. Researching Palliative Care succeeds in its aim to be accessible to the increasing number of palliative care practitioners who are engaging in research as part of their work.

To this extent I think it will be useful to postgraduate students and any healthcare professional conducting research in this area. It is clear that the number of people working in the area of the sociology of dying, death and bereavement has increased dramatically in recent years.

How To Overcome the Pain of Losing a Loved One - Joyce Meyer

While research on bereavement has considered a broad spectrum of people bereaved for many different reasons, to date much of the work, particularly around the experiences and management of dying and death, has focused on the experiences of people who have cancer and on palliative care 1. Cancer is a particular kind of dying in that it often has a relatively clear trajectory. In addition, those diagnosed with cancer are likely to be younger, aware of their diagnosis and prognosis and have access to a sophisticated package of palliative care.

In terms of research areas, those dying with cancer are relatively easy to identify. Just as these people are less likely to receive palliative care, or even to be told of their terminal prognosis in any overt way, so too are they noticeably absent from sociological research.

Review article: the sociology of dying, death and bereavement

The majority of deaths take place within a hospital environment, perhaps unpredicted and unplanned for, as a result of a final terminal exacerbation of a particular chronic disease. While people will continue to die in the hospital setting, it is likely, given demographic changes in the UK, increased social mobility and smaller family sizes, that many will face their own dying and death in a nursing or residential home.

It is only in relatively recent years that work has begun to be conducted within such settings e. Katz and Peace More research in this area is needed allowing sociologists to explore the experiences of those in nursing and residential homes who may be dying in the community with far from optimum support. Research needs to focus on such people's experiences and whether the rhetoric in policy documents about expanding palliative care to all is either appropriate or wanted.

I would like to thank Simon Duckworth, David Field and Carl May for their helpful comments on an earlier version of this paper. Volume 26 , Issue 1. The full text of this article hosted at iucr. If you do not receive an email within 10 minutes, your email address may not be registered, and you may need to create a new Wiley Online Library account. If the address matches an existing account you will receive an email with instructions to retrieve your username.

Free Access. Tools Request permission Export citation Add to favorites Track citation. Share Give access Share full text access. Share full text access. Please review our Terms and Conditions of Use and check box below to share full-text version of article. Introduction The sociological study of dying, death and bereavement is a relatively recent field of research interest. Sociology and dying and death The work of sociologists in the study of dying, death and bereavement dates back to the s in the United States, when the first and still influential empirical observational studies looking at the care of people who were dying were conducted within hospitals Glaser and Strauss , , Sudnow , Strauss Sociology and bereavement A significant amount of sociological work has been conducted on the experiences of bereavement e.

The neglect of spiritual care One area of care at the end of life which sociologists have been notably absent in considering is that of spiritual care. Researching dying, death and bereavement In terms of researching dying, death and bereavement, sociologists have had a significant impact on the kinds of approaches and methods used.

The future? Acknowledgement I would like to thank Simon Duckworth, David Field and Carl May for their helpful comments on an earlier version of this paper. Adams, S. Clark ed.

Death and Adolescent Bereavement: Current Research and Future Directions - David E. Balk,

The Sociology of Death. Oxford: Blackwell. Google Scholar. Crossref Google Scholar. Citing Literature.

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Volume 26 , Issue 1 January Pages References Related Information. Close Figure Viewer. Browse All Figures Return to Figure. Previous Figure Next Figure. The role of hope in bereavement for Chinese people in Hong Kong. Amy Yin Man Chow. Exploratory study of metacognitive beliefs about coping processes in prolonged grief symptomatology.

References Publications referenced by this paper. Kelly , Raymond G. Bereaved parents' outcomes 4 to 60 months after their children's deaths by accident, suicide, or homicide: a comparative study demonstrating differences. Shirley A. Murphy , Louise C. Caring for the dying: how well prepared are general practitioners? A questionnaire study in Wales. Stephen I. Coping with grief after involuntary pregnancy loss: perspectives of African American women. Paulina Van , Afaf Ibrahim Meleis. Do positive psychological states shed light on recovery from bereavement?

Findings from a 3-year longitudinal study. Doctors' emotional reactions to recent death of a patient: cross sectional study of hospital doctors. Ellen M. Meaning making in the aftermath of homicide. Marilyn Peterson Armour. Holly G Prigerson , Emily J.

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The health impact of health care on families: a matched cohort study of hospice use by decedents and mortality outcomes in surviving, widowed spouses.