Social Death Before Physical Death

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Social Death Before Physical Death Essay

All Human beings, regardless of the wealth or beauty, will one day come to an end of their lives. It is an inevitable part of the human life cycle and one that makes every person try all means to make the best out of their existence on the surface of the earth. Humans do so by surrounding themselves with people who understand them and those that can help improve their lives even further. A majority of people enjoy a satisfying life for the better part of the years they spend before their bodies give in. Death has always been known by many people as the time when the body seizes to function.Social Death Before Physical Death Essay. The process is permanent, and once one dies, there is no coming back from the inevitable (Steele, 2015, P. 21). Every community has its own culture and traditions that define some rules and regulations which in turn describes what death is. According to many cultures, death is known to be an extraordinary passage in the life of every human being. However, death does not only describe the time when a person no longer breaths but also when others think that that person is no longer existent despite being alive (Coyle, 2018, P. 46). Death could also describe a situation where one has lost their motivation, self-esteem or anything else that keeps them going.

Although outside appearance can show that most people lead a satisfying life, deep down, some of them suffer from rejection by some members of the society. It is something that makes a person feel lonely and miserable (Williams, 2011, P. 33). Such kind of life is not a person’s decision; it is the incompatibility between them and the society they live in. Bendle claims that the modern activities practiced reducing the human being’s value (Bendle, 2001, P. 353). Based on this description, there are, therefore, two types of death.; social death and physical death. Social death is a scenario where one is alive but is still considered dead to the society (Moya, 2017, 20). Social Death Before Physical Death Essay. Them being alive is not considered a big deal because they supposedly do not affect the society that much. Physical death, on the other hand, is when one passes away biologically. Depending on how the two are defined, either of them can be argued to be the predecessor of the other (Sungeun & Soyeon, 2017, P. 58). The discussion in this essay, therefore, holds that one’s social death comes before their physical death.


There were some changing attitudes towards death that were dominant in the western society between the Middle Ages and the early nineteenth century (Panagiotaki, 2015, P. 38). The following century experienced the development of the new episteme of death which significantly changed the way people view life and death. During the period of ‘Tamed Death,’ there was short life expectancy, and hence death became a very familiar occurrence (Stevenson, 2016, P. 154). Everyone knew that at some point they were going to die. One of the attitudes during this period brought out death as a curse. It was believed that death snatched one’s opportunity to plan their spiritual and earthly lives. The period was also filled with an attitude of realism (Mak, 2012, P. 178). Even those who lived in a world of make-believe came back to reality whenever death was mentioned. Death was, therefore, believed to be everybody’s final destiny. Social Death Before Physical Death Essay.

In the period of ‘death of the self,’ there was a modification of the traditional attitude towards death because there was a new emphasis on the ‘self'(Prochniak, 2011, P. 267). The collective destiny was done away with, and it was now upon everyone to suffer their death. ‘Death of the other’ came in the early eighteenth century. During this period, death was not believed to be everyone’s common destiny (Stein, 2017, P. 1546). It was also not seen as the final item in an individual’s biography, but it was a beautiful sundering for romantic relationships. Social Death Before Physical Death Essay.

The difference between social death and physical death is the visibility (Walter, 2011, P. 295). Social death is invisible as it involves one’s emotions. When one is socially alive, they can feel and see those that are around them. Laughing, crying and even getting angry are forms of the social life of an individual. They are some of the reactions that create understanding within the society. Without such understanding and beliefs that everyone is important wherever they live, life can be quite a mountain to climb (King, 2009, 1461). When one is no longer valued by those who live around them, they begin to feel the effects of being socially dead. It can be seen that during the mentioned centuries, there were a lot of changes in the attitudes of the people towards death. In the current century, the attitude towards death is that it is inevitable (Makgati, 2005, P. 180). Many people show some signs of fears when they hear about death because they know that apart from being inevitable, it is a permanent process.

In the ancient days, death was considered as a natural course of life, and there were rituals performed when one passed away. It is still a practice in most non-western communities. There are those rituals that are used to mark the biological, or physical, the death of an individual (Tirrell, 2016, 586). Other rituals are performed to mark the mourning of the deceased. Finally, there are other rituals for the social death (Bonsu, 2003, P. 45). It is, however, different in the modern western society where the rituals are not given any considerations. The practices that had long given the death of an individual some special meaning are no longer exercised in the contemporary society. Most of the work is, however, carried out by the social workers and the function takes the shortest time possible. Social Death Before Physical Death Essay.

Dead people are not given the respect they usually received previously, and that is blamed on the modernization of the societal beliefs (Snow, 2016, P. 615). Secularization and medicalization of terminal care is the main cause of the fast grief shown by the modern American Jews (Coppedge, 2013, P. 48). Secularization has faded away from the traditions that were passed through generations from the great fathers. As stated before, social death precedes biological, or physical, death and this is probably the reason why the stages of dying and the traditional rituals cannot be easily implemented. In the ancient world, the social death was considered as the final stage in the process of dying, where an individual joined the underworld. However, in the contemporary society, social death can be argued to be the initial stage of one’s death. In the 21st century, withdrawing from the traditional rituals is very easy since there are no longer any restrictions (de Witte, 2003, P. 532).

In the modern world when one dies, the rituals carried out are developed by professionals. Such rituals are normally not in line with those of the deceased or even the bereaved, and an individual is slotted into a hierarchy of new death and dying terms (Steele, 2015, 21). One is given a label of the dying process by the medical practitioners is, as stated before, due to the modern life seeing many changes in recent years (Field, 2000, P. 278). Once one receives the death label, they are considered as an illness and not a human being. It is believed by many that once one has joined the road to death, there is no coming back. Therefore, helping them out will be a waste of time and cutting their life short could be the best option.

The modern activities surrounding the death of a person have all been inclined to the economic point of view. The illustrative example of social death could be argued to be dementia. Those who have dementia are thought to be as good as dead. Social death entails such views where the society views one as dead and less useful to the society (Ben-David, 2006, P. 83). Due to this views, the attention given to patients is, in most cases, dependent on whether they are socially alive or dead. When the patients are perceived to be socially dead, they are attended to with less urgency than before. It is a clear indication that most people believe that helping such people is wasting resources since their chances of coming back to life and giving back to the society are minimal. Some families even choose to end the life of their relative because of the suffering they are going through maybe because of chronic infection (Cangemi, 2014, P. 436). However, does anyone have the right to choose who and when to eliminate from the planet? The life of a human being has been merely reduced to the value of the earthly possessions in the form of the technological systems, which is basically what Bendle tries to put forward Bendle, 2001, P. 349). Despite its help in the development and maintenance of human life, science can never offer a life where there is no suffering. There will always be a problem or two in the way science is applied in real life, and sometimes the side effects are adverse. It, however, conditions people to expect and accept the restitution stories of the harm it has already caused.Social Death Before Physical Death Essay

In the contemporary world, the healthcare practitioners sometimes talk about the patients as if they were objects. The patient’s presence in the conversation is usually a non-issue to the medical practitioners. They keep on talking in the same manner regardless of the patient’s presence, something which brings a bad impression (Young, 1999, P. 273). It is a practice that shows the treatment of the patients as non-persons. The act encourages the social death of an individual because the patient feels dehumanized and devalued. When one loses their self-esteem, it marks the beginning of the next suffering in this life which could lead to the physical death (Grant, 2009, P. 602). Some of the suffering experienced by most patients is usually not just the disease they are recovering from, but also their inner weakness. When the doctors and nurses treat them as described above, it encourages their psychological trauma, which hinders a quick recovery. Some may even lose hope in life, which is not favorable in their condition since anything can happen (Harkey, 2016, P. 290). It reaches a time where a patient is even happy to die despite having the chance of recovery. Such an act shows social death, and physical death is always not far away if care is not taken.

The society has somehow lost the real meaning of the human life (Routledge, 2012, P. 668). Death has become a normal thing in the modern world. Physical deaths are no longer natural but are caused by either the social or economic effects. The social death of an individual has caused very many physical deaths in recent years. For instance, when one is heartbroken, the feeling that comes with that heartbreak affects one’s social life (Van’t Land, 2014, P. 568). If he or she is weak, the effects could be very severe. Contrary to where the social death comes from the external forces, in this case, the death comes from with one’s own heart. Many people have ended up killing themselves because they felt that they were no longer needed in the community they lived within (Black, 2009, P. 28). Social Death Before Physical Death Essay.As for the economic or financial effects, poverty could end up causing deaths. Poverty in its self is not a social death but what comes out of it is more often than not quite alarming. The ideas that build up in one’s mind are what cause the social death of an individual. A person could be walking around looking completely fine but is dead inside.

In conclusion, the descriptions in this essay show that the social death comes after physical death in anyone’s life. It can, therefore, be concluded that a human being can die more than once. Although not everyone experiences social death in their lives, a majority of people go through that phase before physically dying. Social death comes about due to either internal or external forces. When one feels or is treated as if they no longer exist, they tended to feel isolated and rejected (Lamers, 2012, P. 65). It is a description that defines the social death in the current century. In the ancient years, the social death came as the final stage of dying (Pfeffer, 2018, P. 90). It began with the physical death then the social death which was marked in the underworld. Those who were banished never had their names mentioned by those who were still alive.

The analysis in the discussions throughout this essay brings a realization that the modern attitudes towards death and dying are not satisfying. The rituals that used to be the backbone of every community’s existence have been swept away by secularization. The society has forgotten the real meaning of human life. Life has been put on more or less the same level of the earthly gains. The human beings have been reduced to being the components of the modern technology, which is part of the globalization. Death is inevitable but the suffering of a patient is not, and that is the reason why some of the patients get relieved from the pain by terminating their lives.Social Death Before Physical Death Essay.

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