While death and dying are universal and inevitable experiences for all living beings, the meanings humans give to death and dying are shaped by the historical, social, and cultural contexts in which these experiences take place. These experiences are also ultimately exquisitely individual and diverse depending on who an individual is and how their life has unfolded in and been influenced by these complex contexts. The final project for this course offers you an opportunity to consider the complexities of the experience of death and its aftermath from both a personal and sociocultural standpoint.
The overall learning objectives of this course are to:
The objectives of this final assignment include:
FOCUS AND APPROACH
For your final project, you will be writing a paper in which you explore a subject’s death and dying experiences, as well as how loved ones experienced the subject’s death and dying. The subject you write about can be either a human or a non-human animal such as a beloved pet.
This project has two main components: A personal narrative about the subject’s death and dying experience and how others experienced its aftermath, and an analysis of these experiences informed by the concepts, theories, and research we have been considering throughout this course.
Personal Narrative: You will write your paper from the position of the person experiencing the death of a loved one. If you have experienced the death of a loved one, you could write the paper from your own point of view. If you do not want to write about a personal experience or have not had a personal experience with the death of a loved one, you can interview someone, and write about their experience. Ask the person to describe how they honored and were impacted by the subject’s death. You could also write the paper from the perspective of someone you know or have known who has experienced the death of a loved one.
When describing the death and the aftermath, think about the aspects of dying and death we have studied in this course, for example:
Analysis: There are two requirements for the analysis section of your paper:
As a reminder, you encountered rich theoretical and conceptual content in Modules 2, 7 and 8. I encourage you to review those modules as they will be helpful as you work on your final project.
You have flexibility with the overall approach to inquiry and analysis you take in this project. You can be creative and have fun! Just be sure to follow the Project Guidelines described below.
In addition to the course text and online lecture notes, you are expected to find at least two outside sources in addition to our course materials that support your personal and socio-cultural inquiry and analysis of the dying experience and its aftermath.
These sources can be in the form of books or articles but should be scholarly in nature. For example, the articles should come from peer-reviewed academic journals and the books should be written by reputable authors. For the purposes of this assignment, you will not be using source materials from social media or popular information sources such as magazines, newspapers, or websites. When in doubt about the suitability of a source, feel free to ask!
Be sure to integrate your take-aways from your sources, as well as an in-text citation, in the body of your paper. (For example: In a study of families with grieving children, Moss and Freda (2007) found that grief lasted longest when parents refused to talk about the dying person. This finding connects to what my family experienced when my younger brother died. In my father’s family of origin, discussing death and dying were considered taboo topics.)
Your paper should include the following sections: