SO 332 Dying, Death, & Bereavement
SP 2013 HO
Assistant Professor of Sociology
PhD, SocioogyM.A. SociologyB.A. Socioogy
January 14, 2013 – May 10, 2013
3:00 - 4:15 PM
Last Dance: Encountering Death and Dying,9th ed., by Lynne Ann DeSpelder
and Albert LeeStrickland (New York:
McGraw-Hill, 2011). ISBN: 9780073532011. This is the primary text for the
course. It is necessary that you get the correct edition of the text; older
editions are NOT compatible with this: Course website
You will need to click on Student
Edition on the left.
Textbooks can be purchased through the Parkville Bookstore
APA style (free) tutorial: http://www.apastyle.org/learn/tutorials/basics-tutorial.aspx
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Educational Philosophy: First, the focal point of your instructor’s teaching
philosophy is to encourage a proper student-teacher relationship by promoting
critical thinking. The main goal is to facilitate
the task of intellectual development with students. The ability to critically analyze issues in
contemporary society is an important and valuable skill for success. However, this priceless and vital way of
viewing issues in the 21st century must be learned in a suitable
environment where new knowledge can be created.
To accomplish this objective your instructor attempts to create a positive
learning environment both in and outside of the classroom. Promoting intellectual diversity in a
respectful and meaningful way in the classroom is highly valued. Lectures will more than likely incorporate
current events, local, state and national concerns, and an interactive discussion
attempting to tie them into the course concepts and lecture of the day. This approach keeps students engaged in the
classroom, connected with current events, and develops social capital, as well
as allowing expression of one’s individuality
Instructor Learning Outcomes
Class Assessment: Unless otherwise stated, assignments are
due at the start of the class period [as indicated in the course schedule
portion of this syllabus].
Assignment Points ……
Exams  350
will be 4 exams in the course. Exams
1, 2, and 3 [each worth up to 50 points]will each cover 5 chapters of your
text. Exam 4 is your final exam, which
is cumulative and worth up to 200 points.
Reflection Essays  100
assigned in class.
Final Project 200
Your final project for this course involves choosing one
of four assignments [listed below]. More
details in class.
Details for this essay will be given out in class. A lossography is an essay that details the
death and loss events in your life along with your present understanding of
how each experience has influenced your attitudes and beliefs.
Attendance Points 10 extra credit
potential to earn up to an additional 10 points by regular attendance, see Attendance
pop quizzes throughout semester
Your grade in the course is based on the
total number of points earned from the above assignments and exams. There will be no adjustments made to your
total points at the end of semester [i.e., no ‘rounding up’ or curving
grades]. Therefore, it is your
responsibility to keep track of your total points and to meet with the
instructor if you are concerned about your points and perhaps in need of a new
strategy to study for exams, etc. Final course grades will be determined as
Item / Assignment
Exams 1, 2, 3, [50 each]
#4 [final exam, 200]
Reflection Essays  [50
Final Project [choose one from list below]
Total Points Possible
Additional Extra Credit Points
Up to 10 for attendance &
additional points through pop quizzes TBD in class
399 or below
A lossography is an essay that details the death and loss events in your life
along with your present understanding of how each experiences has influenced
your attitudes and beliefs.
Late Submission of Course Materials: For late assignments [if accepted] you will lose 5
points automatically off the grade for the specified assignment. In addition, you will lose 5 points per day
for each day that the assignment is past the due date. There are no exceptions. If your
assignment is late you need to contact your instructor as soon as possible with
an explanation. See page 1 of this
syllabus for email address and office hours.
Use proper subject line in an email, [i.e., Jake Johnson, SO 141 MW]
Classroom Rules of Conduct:
ALL cell phones are to be turned to vibrate or
to off when class begins.
If you choose to put your cell phone on vibrate,
please note that there is NO texting during class. First offense will
receive a warning. At the instructor’s discretion, students may be
subjected to losing points in the final course for each incident of
non-compliance after the first warning.
Any student who brings a laptop to class and is
operating it during class needs to sit in the front row. I trust that if you bring your laptop, you
are using it to take notes or view the online power point for the class and
that you are NOT on Facebook, email or other social networks.
As a student in this
class, you will more than likely encounter new ideas, topics, images and
discussions that may challenge your worldview.
These different views, values and beliefs may at times be unsettling and
even personally offensive or uncomfortable.
You are reminded to be respectful to your instructor and to your
classmates. The instructor of this
course reserves the right to warn a student of improper behavior. If the student does not comply with the
warning, they will be asked to leave the classroom. If the student fails to leave the classroom,
Public Safety Officers (police) will be called and the student will be escorted
out. The instructor will also report the
disruptive behavior to the proper university governing unit according to
university policy. This action will
result in disciplinary action and may lead to removal of the student from the
Course Schedule [Tentative]
SO 332 SP 2013
Attitudes Toward Death: A Climate of Change
No Classes, Martin L. King Day
Learning about Death: The Influence of Sociocultural
Perspectives on Death: Cross-Cultural and Historical:
Death Systems: Mortality and Society
Patients, Staff and Institutions
Issues and Decisions:
Death: Living with Life-Threatening Illness
No Classes, President's Day
Rites: Funerals and Body Disposition
Guest Speaker: Clergy:
Survivors: Understanding the Experience of Loss:
Reflection Essay#1 DUE
Death in the Lives of Children and
No Classes, Spring Recess
Death in the Lives of Adults
Risks, Perils, and Traumatic Death
Beyond Death/ After Life
The Path Ahead: Personal and
Reflection Essay #2 DUE
No Class-work on
Meet with TA if needed
Final Project DUE
Review for Final Exam
Final Exam: 3:15-5:15 p m
HA=Homework Assignment TBA=To be
Academic Honesty:Academic integrity is the foundation of the academic community. Because each student has the primary responsibility for being academically honest, students are advised to read and understand all sections of this policy relating to standards of conduct and academic life. Park University students and faculty members are encouraged to take advantage of the University resources available for learning about academic honesty (www.park.edu/current or http://www.park.edu/faculty/).from Park University 2011-2012 Undergraduate Catalog Page 95-96
Plagiarism:Plagiarism involves the use of quotations without quotation marks, the use of quotations without indication of the source, the use of another's idea without acknowledging the source, the submission of a paper, laboratory report, project, or class assignment (any portion of such) prepared by another person, or incorrect paraphrasing. from Park University 2011-2012 Undergraduate Catalog Page 95
Attendance Policy:Instructors are required to maintain attendance records and to report absences via the online attendance reporting system.
Park University 2011-2012 Undergraduate Catalog Page 98Attendance Policy and Extra Credit Points:
Please attend class regularly and be on time. It is a huge distraction when students come late to class. If you are late, please take a seat in the back of class and see the instructor before leaving the classroom so that you are not marked absent. Again, as stated above, after 3 late arrivals you will need to meet with the instructor. If you come to class and leave before it ends without discussing the reason with the instructor, you will be marked as absent. Lastly, you will have an opportunity to earn attendance points in this course from attending class on a very regular basis. At the end of the course, the instructor will add the following:
• 10 points if you attend all but 2 classes
• 8 points for attending all but 3 classes
• 6 points for attending all but 4 classes
• No additional points for missing 5 or more classes
The full 10 points allows for two class periods missed during the semester due to an illness or other unexpected absence. This tally will include both excused and unexcused absences. So, regardless of the reason, I will count all absences when calculating these points. At the college level, you should take your responsibility to attend classes very seriously. You will certainly have this expectation from an employer or if you attend graduate school, therefore, there is not an outline of a detailed attendance policy, rather, you will be awarded a small number of additional points to your final grade to recognize your commitment to your educational goals.
Disability Guidelines:Park University is committed to meeting the needs of all students that meet the criteria for special assistance. These guidelines are designed to supply directions to students concerning the information necessary to accomplish this goal. It is Park University's policy to comply fully with federal and state law, including Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, regarding students with disabilities. In the case of any inconsistency between these guidelines and federal and/or state law, the provisions of the law will apply. Additional information concerning Park University's policies and procedures related to disability can be found on the Park University web page: http://www.park.edu/disability .
Core Learning Outcomes:
course is designed to:
To increase understanding of the complex phenomena
of death and bereavement, particularly as they relate to a significant loss; to
increase sensitivity to the dying and the bereaved; and to learn techniques for
providing companioning to dying and grieving individuals. Upon completion of this course
Demonstrate knowledge about how death and grief
Exhibit knowledge of interdisciplinary
theoretical approaches useful in understanding the processes of death and loss.
Understand and appreciate the impact that
societal and personal issues have on individual and family coping styles during
times of loss and grief.
Be more comfortable with learning about and
talking about death and loss.
Have familiarity with key thanatological
concepts and models of grief and loss.
Gain cultural competence on the topics of grief
Appreciate and celebrate life, relationships,
learning and diversity.
Office Hours: Office hours are
listed on page 1 of this syllabus. If you
cannot attend during these days/times, please email or approach the instructor
in class for an individual appointment.
These specific hours are set aside so that your questions and concerns
can be addressed.
Inclement weather/emergency closing: If
a class is cancelled because of a snow/ice day, the course schedule will remain
the same as outlined in this syllabus.
The only exception is when a snow day occurs on an exam day, in which
case the exam will be given on the very next scheduled day that we return to
Extra Credit: There are two opportunities to earn
extra credit in the course. The first is
through regular attendance [see Attendance Policy]. Next, I will have unannounced pop quizzes
throughout the semester and will determine their value in class.
Unless of an
emergency, the instructor will usually respond to emails within a 48 hour
period when regular classes are in session.
The only exception to this is when there are breaks in semester or
recess from class, official Park holidays or during school closings.
Final Projects (You will choose ONE of the following):
1. Paper. Write a 6-page double spaced
paper describing the loss of someone or something that meant a great deal in
your life, or in the life of someone you interview. All papers must have a cover sheet (the cover
sheet is not a part of the five pages).
References should include course books and scholarly journals, such as Omega or Mortality (found on JSTOR).
This paper should include but not be limited to the following:
The way the student/participant initially
responded upon learning the news, e.g., shock reaction, how did they feel, what
was said or done, etc.
A description of the loss, details.
How the loss affected the bereaved person’s
ability to function.
The concerns of family/friends for the survivor
How the person coped with the loss
What major factors did the person learn as a
result of the loss
What impact do you think this loss will have on
What support was available to the chief mourner?
What could have been more helpful?
What or who had the biggest impact during the
initial loss period [i.e. family member, friend, internet group, professional,
2. Scavenger Hunt with
reflection essay (that includes references and ties in concepts from the
course). Please type item, when
a. A sympathy card
from a store that actually includes a death-specific word (dead, death, dying)
and not just euphemisms [like passed or gone].
b. A comic-strip
dealing with death or dying (can be a single panel comic).
c. Four newspaper
death notices (obituaries) for people under the age of 50.
d. One magazine advertisement using dying, death or death
images to sell a product or service.
e. One newspaper article or news magazine article that uses
a death-related euphemism (such as ‘passed on’, ‘passed away’, ‘kicked the
bucket’, ‘departed this life’, etc.)
f. Names of three currently marketed toys that are death
related (excluding video games).
g. A child’s nursery rhyme involving death/dying (type out
the entire rhyme, not just the title).
h. An article that shows an out of the ordinary memorialized
or eulogized deceased person.
i. Two photographs from the news that show people in other
cultures grieving a loss.
j. Photograph of an
unusual tombstone or grave marker, please include location.
After collecting the above items, now you
are to write an essay (3 pages minimum-6 pages maximum) reflecting on your
experience for this assignment.
Writing your own obituary.
We will all die
someday. Our society has a long
tradition of posting death notices in the local newspaper. Assuming we continue
to do so, what do you imagine your obituary might say about your life? Include the following information:
a. Projected age of death (try to live a full
b. Time, date, place, and cause of death,
c. Residential address/area at time of death
d. Previous residences from birth to death
e. Educational experience
f. Military experiences
g. Occupational experiences, accomplishments,
h. Community involvement
i. Volunteer work
j. Hobbies, interests
k. Survivors (family, significant others)
l. Preceded in death by whom?
m. Visitations, when and where, special
n. Memorial service, where and when, conducted
o. Body disposition
p. Special requests for gifts
q. Anything else of interest
Length: 2 pages or more
obituary as a narrative with paragraphs and sentences. Create a journalistic testimony to the fact
that your life had been lived and that your life had significance. Highlight important aspects of your
life. Be creative. Be optimistic about your future and your
a 6-page book report on a
book related to death and/or grief, with instructor approval. This report must include specific quotes from
the author. This report should tie
in the class discussions and/or concepts being learned. Some book suggestions include:
Attig, Thomas. 1996. How
We Grieve: Relearning the World. New York:
2007. A Year of Magical Thinking. Vintage Publishers.
Worden, J. William. 1996. Children and Grief: When a Parent Dies. New
From: Cox, G.R., & Bendiksen, R.A.,
Eds., 2000. Death, Dying, and Bioethics: A
Teaching Resource Manual for Courses on the Sociology of Death, Revised
Edition, American Sociological Association, Washington, DC.
class is not intended for those who have recently experienced a death of
someone close to them as students will be expected to perform grief and
bereavement related activities as well as self-assess feelings regarding one’s
own death and dying. The
course material has the potential to reawaken loss and grief. Any student who is experiencing any undue
reactions to any of the course content is strongly urged to notify the
instructor and to visit the counseling center on campus, and may consider
dropping the course
Last Updated:12/27/2012 9:49:39 PM