Cemeteries, War

The question of what do with soliders killed in war has been a problem throughout recorded history, addressed in different ways by different cultures. An extreme solution was eating the killed individual, an act often connected with the idea that the power of the victim would be added to that of the eaters.

Charnel Houses

A charnel house is a building, chamber, or other area in which bodies or bones are deposited, also known as a mortuary chapel. Charnel houses arose as a result of the limited areas available for cemeteries.

Charon and the River Styx

Charon, in Greek mythology, acts as the ferryman of the dead. Hermes (the messenger of the gods) brings to him the souls of the deceased, and he ferries them across the river Acheron to Hades (Hell).


Most people in American society resist associating the words children and death in a single phrase. They do not wish to contemplate the possibility that children may encounter death-related events either in their own lives or in the lives of others.

Children and Adolescents' Understanding of Death

Parents often feel uneasy and unprepared in responding to their children's curiosity about death. Studies indicate that many parents felt they had not been guided to an understanding of death in their own childhood and as parents either had to improvise responses or rely on the same evasive techniques that had been used on them.

Children and Media Violence

The impact of violent media on children and adolescents has been the subject of debate since the advent of mass media, and has involved a complex interplay of policies, politics, research, commercial interest, and public advocacy. The U.S.

Children and Their Rights in Life and Death Situations

In 2003 approximately 55,000 children and teenagers in the United States will die. Accidents and homicide cause the most deaths, and chronic illnesses such as cancer, heart disease, and congenital abnormalities are the next greatest cause.

Children, Caring for When Life-Threatened or Dying

A child's terminal illness and/or death is an almost unspeakable and fortunately rare tragedy in the developed world; the death of a child is considered an affront to the natural order in these societies because parents are not supposed to outlive their children. However, the death of a child is a far more common experience in developing nations.

Children, Murder of

On October 25, 1994, Susan Smith, a South Carolina wife and mother, drowned her two-year-old and fourteen-month-old sons. Marilyn Lemak, a forty-one-year-old registered nurse drugged and then suffocated her three young children (ages three to seven) in her home in Naperville, Illinois, on March 5, 1999.

Chinese Beliefs

In premodern China, the great majority of people held beliefs and observed practices related to death that they learned as members of families and villages, not as members of organized religions. Such beliefs and practices are often subsumed under the umbrella of "Chinese popular religion." Institutional forms of Buddhism, Confucianism, Taoism, and other traditions contributed many beliefs and practices to popular religion in its local variants.

Christian Death Rites, History of

In the world in which Christianity emerged, death was a private affair. Except when struck down on the battlefield or by accident, people died in the company of family and friends.

Civil War, U.S.

Between the years 1861 and 1865, the United States engaged in a civil war, one of the most significant military confrontations in the young republic's life. The conflict dramatically altered the course of American society, eradicating the institution of slavery from the land and accelerating a number of social, economic, and political trends originating in other regions of the country.

Communication with the Dead

Distant communication has been transformed since ancient times. People can bridge the distance between absent loved ones by picking up a cellular phone, sending e-mail, or boarding a jet that quickly eradicates physical distance.

Communication with the Dying

Interpersonal communication regarding death, dying, and bereavement has become an increasingly important area in the field of thanatology, wherein research has addressed the critical role of open family communication in facilitating the positive processing of a death loss. In the 1990s, attention started to be given to communicative issues with reference to dying individuals, especially with regard to the need for improved communication between dying persons and their families, their physicians, and their nurses.


Confucius (551–479 B.C.E.) was one of several intellectuals who started questioning the meaning of life, and the role of the gods and the spirits. During the Warring States Period, Confucius developed a system of ethics and politics that stressed five virtues: charity, justice, propriety, wisdom, and loyalty.

Continuing Bonds

The phrase "continuing bonds" was first used in 1996 to refer to an aspect of bereavement process in the title of the book, Continuing Bonds: Another View of Grief, which challenged the popular model of grief requiring the bereaved to "let go" of or detach from the deceased. It was clear from the data presented that the bereaved maintain a link with the deceased that leads to the construction of a new relationship with him or her.


Cremation is the burning of the human body until its soft parts are destroyed by fire. The skeletal remains and ash residue (cremains) often become the object of religious rites, one for the body and one for the bones.

Cruzan, Nancy

On January 11, 1983, Nancy Cruzan, then twentyfive years old, was involved in an automobile accident. Her body was thrown thirty-five feet beyond her overturned car.

Cryonic Suspension

James H. Bedford is the first person known to have been placed in a state of cryonic suspension under controlled conditions.

Cult Deaths

In the past several decades, a handful of cults have been associated with mass deaths, either through murders, suicides, or standoffs with the government that ended tragically. These highly publicized cases have convinced the public that many or all cults are extremist groups that are highly dangerous; in fact, there is little understanding by many people of what constitutes a cult, how they recruit, or what turns a small number of these groups toward violence.


Dance, like other forms of art, has treated the subject of death continually throughout history and will continue to be used as a vehicle to express human fascination with this eternal unanswered question. Rituals have surrounded the mystery of death from prehistoric times.

Danse Macabre

The band consists of four skeletons performing on bagpipe, portative organ, harp, and small drum. The dancers move in a low, stately procession.