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date: 21 November 2017

Abstract and Keywords

Writing at the intersection of developmental perspectives, ethnographic research, and bereavement studies, the author explores cultural beliefs, behaviors, and emotions connected to the end of life, dying, and death of elders. The chapter discusses the substantial differences across cultures in who the elders are, their experiences with loss, their treatment and standing, and what are considered good and bad deaths for them. The author speculates about what it means when elders in many cultures think that their culture and its treatment of them have declined and examines cross-cultural differences in grief and death rituals when an elder dies. And for the many cultures in which spirits of the dead remain actively present in the world of the living, the author speculates about the implications of this belief for survivors and researchers.

Keywords: aging, culture, death, dying, elders, grief, mourning, spirits

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