The sight and sound of death: the management of dead bodies in residential and nursing homes for older people

Komaromy, Carol (2000). The sight and sound of death: the management of dead bodies in residential and nursing homes for older people. Mortality, 5(3) pp. 299–315.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/713686009

Abstract

This paper explores the management of the dead body in residential and nursing homes. It asks why the sight but not the sound of death is systematically concealed. It is based on data from an earlier study into the management of death and dying in these settings, which involved a multi-method approach and included quantitative and qualitative data collection (Sidell et al., 1997). However the data examined in this paper are mainly drawn from participant observations in eight case study homes. In particular the paper focuses on the concealment of the sight of death and the lack of concealment of the sounds associated with the removal of the corpse from these homes. The paper explores the nature of this concealment through a consideration of performance, the privileging of sight above sound, and the professional strategies which staff use to manage death.

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