Why do we die? Why can't we live forever? What happens to us after death? Moving between science and culture, After Life: Ways We Think About Death takes a straightforward look at these and other questions long taboo in our society. By showing the fascinating, diverse ways in which we understand death, both today and throughout our history, the book also shines a light on what it is to be human. Each chapter includes a brief telling of a death legend, myth or history from a different culture or tradition, from Adam and Eve to Wolf and Coyote, and ends with a section on a common theme in our thinking about death, such as rivers and birds in the afterlife, the colors that different cultures use to symbolize death, and, of course, ghosts. The final chapter is about grief, which is both a universal human experience and unique to each person. The text offers suggestions for ways to think about our grief, when to ask for help and how to talk to friends who are grieving.
Author and hospice volunteer Wilcox (What's the Buzz? Keeping Bees in Flight) skillfully tackles the subject of death and dying in this nonfiction book for middle grade readers. Six short chapters ("We Are Stardust" and "Healing After Loss" among them) discuss the physiology of death one page details what happens to the body minutes, hours, months, and years after the event as well as the beliefs and rituals surrounding life's end over the millennia and across the globe. Full-color photographs and artwork, as well as definitions and sidebars, will pull curious readers into the factual pages, which cover everything from green burials and grief stages to physician-assisted death, cryonic suspension, and bioethics. Thorough and well organized, this book honors its intended audience's ability to handle the subject matter, offering detailed scientific, mythological, historical, cultural, and religious takes on how people handle death ("During the Middle Ages, parents in Europe dressed their young children like adults to trick death into looking elsewhere for its prey"). Print and online resource lists, an extensive glossary, and an index conclude this meaningful, straightforward look at an often taboo topic. Ages 9 12.