Civil War Changed American Cultural Notions Death

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How did the Civil War change American cultural notions of ‘the Good Death’? During the Victorian Era many Americans shared an idea of dealing with death and mourning. Americans during this time believed in an ideal death, more commonly referred to as a ‘Good Death’. This concept consisted of the following: Dying with dignity, willingness, expectancy, acceptance, peace, privacy, and control over where death occurs. This approach on dying gave reassurance to family members and friends that the deceased had achieved eternal life. The notion of peacefully reaching afterlife was vital to Americans at the time. It would relieve the grieving process for the family members and friends. During the Civil War this cultural notion of a ‘Good Death’ presented an immediate absence in households all over the nation when it was no longer available. The Civil War quickly diminished these traditions of a ‘Good Death’. It had more casualties and bloodshed than any other American war. Thousands of soldiers traveled to various distant locations away from home to fight in battle. The soldiers knew of the possibility that they may die in a foreign environment. During the war, a large number of those soldiers were killed in an ignoble fashion by diseases, poisons, ambushing, or in battles that shed blood everywhere. They died far away from home abandoned on battle fields. Countless soldiers were thrown into mass graves, never being identified. It was then the surviving soldier’s responsibility to write the deceased’s family members a letter expressing their dying son’s last words. This act of sending the dying words of the loved one was imperative to the family that was left behind. It provided hope to the family that their son did have a ‘good death’ and has peacefully entered the eternal life. Most of the letters were fabricated for the sake of the family’s curiosity and
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