A Sociocultural Analysis of Death Anxiety Among Older Japanese Urbanites in a Citizens' Movement
Omega 2010-2011; 62(4): 369-86
By examining the experiences of death anxiety and attitudes toward personal deaths among members of a citizens' movement, the Grave-Free Promotion Society (GFPS), this study considers the applicability of the view that culture and high self-esteem serve as defenses against death anxiety in Japan's changing society. The GFPS promotes the scattering of ashes over the conventional interment of cremated remains in a family grave. GFPS members often lack descendants to care for a family grave, the neglect of which is thought to endanger the deceased's peaceful rest. By returning the dead to nature through ash scattering, the GFPS provides an alternative strategy of managing its members' posthumous well-being. GFPS members often report that their choice of ash scattering has reduced their anxiety about their personal deaths and improved the quality of their lives. Based upon these findings, this study offers some suggestions for increasing cultural sensitivities of test instruments commonly used to examine death anxiety among older persons for use in a Japanese context.
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