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7. "Sounding out Death”, and Death and the Sense of Sound

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1. Title Title of document 7. "Sounding out Death”, and Death and the Sense of Sound - Religion, Death and the Senses
2. Creator Author's name, affiliation, country Suzi Garrod; Next Steps for Living, Dying, Grieving;
2. Creator Author's name, affiliation, country Christina Welch; University of Winchester; United Kingdom
3. Subject Discipline(s) Religious Studies
4. Subject Keyword(s) Douglas Davies; Monika Renz; auditive sensitivity of the dying; death ritual; chant; eulogy; mournful cry; keening; wailing; sound and death; death rattle
5. Subject Subject classification Religion and the Senses; Death and Dying
6. Description Abstract Drawing on Douglas Davies’ theory of ‘words against death’ (2017) and Dr Monika Renz’ research into the auditive sensitivity of the dying (2015) this chapter explores the significance of sound, and the sense of hearing, in relation to death. It considers how words and sounds embedded within traditional death rituals bring comfort to both the dying and the mourning. Prayers, blessings, invocations, chants, hymns, and eulogies exemplify such vocalised ritual responses to death, all of which occur in some form across every human culture and religion. The sound of mournful crying, and the practice of keening, or wailing are powerful and emotional cross-cultural expressions of grief which universally communicate death without the accompaniment of liturgical music or words. Sounds associated with death can bring both comfort and distress to those who hear them. The final messages, voices and intonations, of loved ones can soothe those who lie ‘betwixt and between’ (Turner, 1969:95) the threshold of life and death. Clinical studies have shown that hearing may be the last sense to function at end of life and that even when unconscious, the dying respond to different sounds, tones, and rhythms (Blundon, Gallagher, Ward, 2020:1). Conversely the gurgling sound of the ‘death rattle’ in the latter stages of dying, can be extremely distressing for relatives to hear. Finally, this chapter touches upon mythology relating to the sounds of nature as omens of impending death, such as the squeaking sound emitted by the hawk moth, the sound of a cricket chirping in a house, or the tapping of the death watch beetle (Cherry, 2011).
7. Publisher Organizing agency, location Equinox Publishing Ltd
8. Contributor Sponsor(s)
9. Date (YYYY-MM-DD) 01-Aug-2024
10. Type Status & genre Peer-reviewed Article
11. Type Type
12. Format File format PDF
13. Identifier Uniform Resource Identifier
14. Identifier Digital Object Identifier 10.1558/equinox.43880
15. Source Journal/conference title; vol., no. (year) Equinox eBooks Publishing; Religion, Death and the Senses
16. Language English=en en
18. Coverage Geo-spatial location, chronological period, research sample (gender, age, etc.)
19. Rights Copyright and permissions Copyright 2014 Equinox Publishing Ltd