In Grief Works: Stories of Life, Death and Surviving, Julia Samuel writes: “The Victorians were famously good at death, but couldn’t talk about sex; now the reverse is true.”

Attitudes towards death changed when religion waned and medicine improved, she writes. During the two world wars it wasn’t possible to erect elaborate memorial stones and hold funerals; the biological imperative to survive took over. The baby boomers also hid their grief as they had learnt to do from their parents. But today the lack of control and powerlessness that death forces us to contend with go against our 21st-century ...


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