Imagery of Death and Grief in the Media. Rev. Aimee Wollman, M.Div , B.C.C. Lead Chaplain Luther Midelfort Eau Claire, Wisconsin. Objectives. Describe historical depictions of end of life. Identify the current trends in the culture of grief and loss.
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Rev. Aimee Wollman, M.Div, B.C.C.
Eau Claire, Wisconsin
Death Depicted through the
By Rogier van der Weyden,
Mid 15th Century
The Arrival of the Queen’s Body and Its Reception by Cardinal Jean de Luxembourg, Jean Perreal, 1515
Juan De Juanes, 1560
“Funeral of Firstborn”
Nikolay Alexandrovich Yaroshenko, 1893
There was a persistence of an attitude toward death that remained unchanged for thousands of years, an attitude that expressed a naïve acceptance of destiny and nature. The individual and community accepted death as an unalterable fate, and embraced domesticated rituals of mourning.
Children were welcome and expected to be part of the funeral rituals. Death was part of life.
(Hilliker, 2008, p. 264)
The message seems to be:
Your grief is no different than being sick. There are expectations from employers, other family members, and society to make a full recovery, move on, resume normal functioning, and get over the issues of grief and loss as quickly as possible.
How to Celebrate a Life…Remember them as they were.A traditional funeral service with black suits and quiet church music and people gathered around a casket or urn, is okay for some, but it is not favorable for many people. Sometimes mourning a life does not feel right. Life should be celebrated. It is a special day when people who loved a person get together and celebrate their life, happily, and remember the person as they were...alive, and vibrant.http://www.squidoo.com/CelebrateLife
Mediated Death and
Real Life Contexts
“The fact is that today many people in North America and in Europe never see a dead body or witness a real death until their early to mid-adult years. However, the majority have seen hundreds if not thousands of simulated deaths via the media”
The consumption of death related media does not prepare us for real life experience of death of grief.
In the eyes of the Media
Deaths due to poverty, AIDS, genocide, and natural disasters are highly under reported in the national media.
“This rational imperative extends to the way in which the corpse and death should be viewed: as an object for science rather than emotion, spirituality, or other cultural beliefs.” (Sue Tait)
We may indeed by under the illusion we know death very well; that it is something 21st century human beings confront, constantly expose, and go towards, rather than seeing death as that which comes towards us, shaking values, knowledge and reason.
“Cultures that live by the values of self-realization and self-mastery are not very good at dying, at submitting to those experiences where freedom ends and biological fate begins…their weak side is submitting to the inevitable” (Callahan, p. 112).
-Callahan, p. 112-113
Callahan, D. (2009). Death, mourning, and medical progress. Perspective in Biology and Medicine. 52(1), 103-115.
Encyclopedia of Death and Dying (2011). Children and Media Violence. Retrieved from http://www.deathreference.com/Ce-Da/Children-and-Media-Violence.html
Foltyn, J. (2008). Dead famous and dead sexy: Popular culture, forensics, and the rise of the corpse. Mortality 13(2), 153-173.
Gibson, M. (2007). Death and mourning in technologically mediated culture. Health Sociology Review (16)5, 415-424.
Hilliker, L. (2008). The reporting of grief by one newspaper of record for the U.S.: The New York Times. OMEGA 57(3) 261-278.
Quigley, Christine. (1996), The corpse: A history. Jefferson, NC: McFarland & Company, Inc.