Category: The Deathbed

Reconsidering How We Die

I arrived home ready to relax and watch The Crown after an intense work day, which included debriefing the family of a person in hospice who had died that night. Although we’d advised the family about the often brutal nature of dying from throat cancer, it can be difficult to imagine for anyone who hasn’t… Read more →

Weaving Wool into Death: Burial in 17th-Century England

The rituals we use to honor someone in death often reflect the way that they lived, from their religion to their favorite color. People have strong preferences for what will happen to their body after they die and what kind of funeral they want. Twenty-four percent of UK adults have already chosen which songs they… Read more →

What to Expect When You’re Expiring: Pregnancy and Death in Seventeenth-Century England

On October 12, 1622, a 26-year-old English woman named Elizabeth Jocelin gave birth to her first child, a baby girl. Nine days later, she died of puerperal fever, an infection of the genital tract — most likely from bacteria accidentally introduced by a birthing attendant during labor — that can cause fatal sepsis in postpartum… Read more →

Why We Need to Talk About Death Right Now

I can hear some of you say, “Can’t we talk about something more pleasant?” That’s the same question American cartoonist Roz Chast’s parents asked her when she wanted to talk to them about their deaths. Her title represents the general attitude towards death in American society today. Even in the midst of a global pandemic,… Read more →

The Deathbed: A New Nursing Clio Series

This past fall, when we began work on a Nursing Clio series about death, we never imagined the world would look the way it does today. Early reports of illness in China were limited and, as they often are, written in the confident language of exceptionalism: epidemics happen over there, to other people, in other… Read more →