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Death Behind the Wheel

Although Americans love their automobiles, up to one in fifty will meet their end in one. Approximately 30,000 Americans die each year in road accidents. No one can estimate the number of deaths caused indirectly by pollution caused by automobile emissions; it is probably substantial. An automobile accident claims a human life in the United …

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War

During the eight years of the American Revolutionary War, which led to the nation’s independence from Great Britain, approximately 25,000 Americans lost their lives. During the American Civil War of 1861-1865, certain single battles accounted for a greater number of deaths than all the American wars that had preceded it. Counting both the north and …

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Now We Can Talk About It

Despite the strong American impetus to turn death into a non-subject, Americans are starting to realize that talking about the reality of death is perhaps a good thing. Jessica Mitford’s 1963 bestselling book, The American Way of Death opened up the subject to much discussion. Even more influential was the book On Death and Dying by Elisabeth Kubler-Ross, in …

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Condolences and Sympathy Cards

Americans generally believe in consoling people who have lost loved ones. Many Americans write sympathy letters or use purchased pre-printed sympathy cards, especially if they are separated by distance from the bereaved person and are unable to attend a funeral or make a personal visit during the mourning period. The sympathy card becomes a formal …

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Suicide

Suicide is a serious problem in the United States, generating immense family disruption, pain, and grief. Every year, approximately 30,000 Americans kill themselves, about the same rate as death by automobile (although there is undoubtedly some overlap between the two). Firearms account for more than half of all successful suicides. Pills, poisons and strangulation cover …

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The Right to Die

As medical technology advanced to a point where it could keep an unconscious person alive for years with artificial machinery, the right to die began to emerge as a major issue. It spread beyond the cases of unconsciousness to cases in which terminally ill people facing extreme pain demanded the right to ask others to …

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The Death Penalty

After ten years of constitutional controversy during which there were no executions, in 1977 some American states began once again to execute condemned prisoners. The most common method is by lethal injection, followed by the electric chair and the gas chamber. Since 1977, only about 1% of all those executed have been women. The legal …

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Obituaries and Death Notices

When someone dies in America it is common practice for the family to place a notice of death in the newspaper. Usually this costs money. If the person is prominent, the newspaper might write a short editorial article about them (an “obituary” or “obit”). Both death notices and obituaries may announce the time and place …

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Death in the USA

The American attitude towards death, in cultural terms, is one of denial. Where many other cultures view death as a natural progression in the cycle of life among generations, the American culture prefers not to talk about death. When death does approach or arrive, as it inevitably must, Americans often use euphemisms: “passed on,” “passed …

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American Attitudes

Hush, Hush. Americans do not speak very openly or in much detail about death. Rather they allude to it, avoiding tackling the subject directly, as they would talk about sexual matters. Americans do not die. They “pass away, “expire,” “kick the bucket,” “go to their reward,” “breathe their last,” “cash in their chips,” “meet their maker,” …

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