1st Edition

Death, Religion and Law A Guide For Clinicians

    340 Pages 18 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    340 Pages 18 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    This practical guide summarizes the principles of working with dying patients and their families as influenced by the commoner world religions and secular philosophies. It also outlines the main legal requirements to be followed by those who care for the dying following the death of the patient.

    The first part of the book provides a reflective introduction to the general influences of world religions on matters to do with dying, death and grief. It considers the sometimes conflicting relationships between ethics, religion, culture and personal philosophies and how these differences impact on individual cases of dying, death and loss. The second part describes the general customs and beliefs of the major religions that are encountered in hospitals, hospices, care homes and home care settings. It also includes discussion of non-religious spirituality, humanism, agnosticism and atheism. The final part outlines key socio-legal aspects of death across the UK.

    Death, Religion and Law provides key knowledge, discussion and reflection for dealing with the diversity of the everyday care of dying and death in different religious, secular and cultural contexts. It is an important reference for practitioners working with dying patients, their families and the bereaved.

    Part 1: Belief systems in society and human history: interpretations of the mysteries of life and death

    1. Introduction to death and religion in society

    2. Faith, why people believe and the need for tolerance

    3. The characteristics of a religion or belief system

    4. The range of belief paradigms

    5. What happens when we die?

    6. The soul: what is it; where is it; and does it exist?

    7. What does death mean to patients and their relatives?

    8. Near-death experiences, deathbed visions and visions of the bereaved

    9. The entanglement of religion, ethics and societal development

    10. The uses and abuses of religion

    Part 2: Managing death in different faiths and doctrines

    11. An introduction to religions and belief systems

    12. The landscape of religions worldwide and in the UK

    13. The Baha’i faith

    14. Buddhism

    15. Chinese religions

    16. Christianity

    17. Hinduism

    18. Islam

    19. Jainism

    20. Judaism

    21. Rastafarianism

    22. Secular philosophies and other belief systems

    23. Shintoism

    24. Sikhism

    25. Zoroastrianism

    Part 3: Legal aspects of death in the UK

    26. Life and death as biological and legal constructs

    27. Medico-legal issues at the end of life

    28. The responses of professionals and relatives around death

    29. Medical certification of the cause of death (MCCD)

    30. The registration of death

    31. Coroners and autopsies

    32. The body after death

    33. Disposal of the body

    34. Life support, brain death and transplantation

    35. Performing last offices

    36. Less common circumstances

    37. Death in Northern Ireland and Scotland

    38. Future changes in England and Wales



    Peter Hutton was Professor of Anaesthesia at Birmingham University, an Honorary Consultant at University Hospital Birmingham and a Medical Examiner. He is now a non-Executive Director of the Royal Brompton and Harefield Hospitals.

    Ravi Mahajan is Professor of Anaesthesia and Intensive Care at Nottingham University, UK.

    Allan Kellehear is 50th Anniversary Professor (End of Life Care), Faculty of Health Studies, University of Bradford, UK.