Exploring social management of lone deaths
More people than ever before are living alone, leading to concern about social isolation, particularly amongst older people. Solo living increases the likelihood of a person dying alone at home.
When this happens and the person has few friends or relatives, there is the increased chance that their body will be undiscovered for an extended period of time.
This study aims to develop understanding of the social circumstances of lone deaths and to explore responses to such deaths of local authority workers and the news media. Lone deaths may be reported in the local press, usually in terms that suggest the death is a bad one, and often attributing blame to either the person who died or wider society.
We know little about the circumstances in which lone deaths occur, although there is evidence that for some people, dying alone may be a matter of choice. This study will enhance our knowledge of the institutions and processes that we use to manage death and dying. Its findings will also help us to understand more about how we place limits on the socially acceptable choices that people can make in relation to the way in which they die.
- Caswell, G. and Turner, N. (2020) ‘Ethical challenges in researching and telling the stories of recently deceased people’, Research Ethics. https://doi.org/10.1177/1747016120952503 https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/full/10.1177/1747016120952503
- Caswell, G.(2020) ‘‘A stark and lonely death’: Representations of dying alone in popular culture’, in Teodorescu, A. and Jacobsen, M.H. (eds). Death in contemporary popular culture. London: Routledge. Pp. 38-50.
- Turner, N. and Caswell, G. (2020) ‘Moral ambiguity in media reports of dying alone’, Mortality, 25(3), 266-281.DOI: 10.1080/13576275.2019.1657388 https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/13576275.2019.1657388?journalCode=cmrt20
- Turner, N. and Caswell, G.(2020) ‘A relative absence: exploring professional experiences of funerals without mourners’, Omega – Journal of Death and Dying. https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/full/10.1177/0030222820959960
- Caswell, G & O’Connor, M 2018. ‘I’ve no fear of dying alone’: exploring perspectives on living and dying alone. Mortality, 24(1), 17-31. DOI: 10.1080/13576275.2017.1413542
- Caswell, G & Emmerich, N (Ed.) 2018. Researching the dead: using sociological autopsy to explore lone deaths. SAGE Research Methods Cases. DOI: 10.4135/9781526434074
- Caswell, G. (2018) ‘For some people dying alone is not such a bad thing – here’s why.’ The Conversation, Friday 19th January 2018. https://theconversation.com/for-some-people-dying-alone-is-not-such-a-bad-thing-heres-why-90034