This week focuses on the ways in which discussions around death shift over time and the ways in which age plays a role in how we talk about death (or avoid talking about it). I’d like you to think about the following questions to formulate your argument for your paper. Try to spend some time with the (sometimes uncomfortable) beliefs we may hold about talking about the death of people when it is considered to be “off-time”. Your papers should be 2-3 pages in length and demonstrate your ability to use the concepts and theories from your readings to clearly articulate your point of view. Try to push yourself beyond superficial responses to demonstrate connections you’ve made between your reflections and course content. A helpful summary on writing reflections can be found here: https://www.iirp.edu/pdf/IIRP-Reflection-Tip_Sheet.pdf
Why do you think we are generally so uncomfortable speaking honestly about death to children? What are the social and cultural beliefs that sometimes lead to the sense that children should be ‘protected’ from dealing with it directly? Be sure to consider both individual-level explanations (developmental levels, etc.) and societal explanations (the ways in which early death has become uncommon due to technological advances). What is your first childhood memory of death? How did this experience shape your views on talking to kids about death?
While talking to children about death is difficult for many of us, it is perhaps even more complicated to deal with the death of a child. Why are Americans so uncomfortable with the death of young people, specifically children? What can this tell us about our social and cultural expectations? How have these expectations changed over time? Read the article Images of Stillbirth (pdf attached). This article discusses the ways in which some parents find comfort in photographing their stillborn children as a form of grieving. What are the aspects of this that you find interesting, challenging, or surprising? Would you argue that, collectively, we are comforted by these kinds of images? Why or why not? What can our levels of comfort or approval of this practice? Be sure to link your responses to the above prompts and the article with specific concepts and theories from your text that you have read thus far.
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