Religion, Death, and Dying

by Lucy Bregman, Editor


What to say in the face of death? Religions have offered hopes, consolations, and systems of meaning. They have provided spiritual guidance and ethical insight for the dying, their families, and those who care and mourn for them. Here in North America, they continue to do so, even as the conditions and situations for dying, death, and bereavement change dramatically from the traditions of the past.

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Cover image for Religion, Death, and Dying

November 2009


Pages 715
Volumes 3
Size 6 1/8x9 1/4
Topics Religion/General

A wide-ranging anthology for general readers covering many religious, ethical, and spiritual aspects of death, dying, and bereavement in American society.

What do various spiritual and ethical belief systems have to say about modern medicine’s approach to the end of life? Do all major religions characterize the afterlife in similar ways? How do funeral rites and rituals vary across different faiths? Now there is one resource that gathers leading scholars to address these questions and more about the many religious, ethical, and spiritual aspects of death, dying, and bereavement in America.

Religion, Death, and Dying compares and contrasts the ways different faiths and ethical schools contemplate the end of life. The work is organized into three thematic volumes: first, an examination of the contemporary medicalized death from the perspective of different religious traditions and the professions involved; second, an exploration of complex, often controversial issues, including the death of children, AIDS, capital punishment, and war; and finally, a survey of the funeral and bereavement rituals that have evolved under various religions.


  • Includes the work of 31 distinguished contributors, representing a range of many religious traditions and ethical viewpoints
  • Provides bibliographic lists for each chapter, with references and further reading on the subject


  • Makes a wealth of scholarship on diverse, difficult questions on death and dying accessible to general readers
  • Offers the religious point of view to questions raised by medical science’s evolving role in end-of-life decisions for patients and families
  • Provides clear, unbiased considerations of unsettling topics such as euthanasia, childhood deaths, and war, from a range of religious/ethical perspectives
  • Shows how various burial and bereavement rituals developed over time
Author Info

Lucy Bregman, PhD, is professor of religion at Temple University, Philadelphia, PA. Her published works include Beyond Silence and Denial: Death and Dying Reconsidered and Death and Dying, Spirituality, and Religions: A Study of the Death Awareness Movement.



"In order to reflect the diversity of American society, the anthology begins with human meanings and implications of medicalized death, then explores responses to death in particular religious traditions and practices. Among the topics are hospice and spiritual needs of the dying, Jewish perspectives on death and dying, and cultural revitalization and de-medicalized death among the Eastern Band of Cherokee. The second volume considers bereavement and death rituals within different traditions, such as Roman Catholics and Eastern Orthodox Christians, Islam in the US, American Buddhism, and civic ritual and public remembrance. The final volume looks at special issues, among them the death of a child, AIDS, suicide, ethical and religious understandings of warfare deaths in the American context, and evidence for life and death. The contributors are scholars mostly of religion and specific religions, but also of health sciences and other fields. Each volume is paged and indexed separately."—Reference & Research Book News

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