Many people have asked me what Thanatology is. Thanatology, in a nutshell, is the study of death.
A few definitions are below:
The Oxford dictionary states: “…the scientific study of death and the practices associated with it, including the study of the needs of the terminally ill and their families.”
The Verywell Health website says: “Thanatology is the science and study of death and dying from multiple perspectives – medical, physical, psychological, spiritual, ethical, and more. Professionals in a wide range of disciplines use thanatology to inform their work, from doctors and coroners to hospice workers and grief counsellors. There are also thanatology specialists who focus on a specific aspect of the dying process or work directly with people facing their own death or that of loved ones. “
And the Tyndale University website: “Thanatology is the study of grief, bereavement, death and dying. This growing discipline explores the grieving process, ethical issues surrounding death and dying, cultural, gender and societal attitudes towards death, the issues facing both the dying and the bereaved, and the place of ritual and memorialization.”
After Emma died and Charlie went back to school in September 2016, I had time on my hands for the first time in many years. I didn’t know how I was going to get through my days, and I become curious about how other people grieve. I wondered if there was a right or wrong way to grieve.
I began to look up grieving throughout history, how different religions, cultures, beliefs did it. There was lots of information, but nothing held for me. I continued my search and discovered that you can actually study death and grieving, something called Thanatology. And that’s all it took for me. I was sold.
Nearly 2 years later I had a certificate in Thanatology.
It has given me a great foundation for the other courses I have taken since and it also made me dive deep into my own grief and see where I sit with it.
As I have said before, it’s not everyone’s cup of tea, but for me, it seems like something I’ve always wanted and needed to do. It took Emma’s death to show me that. It’s not about everything having a meaning. It’s about the meaning after the fact. That’s what it’s been for me.
Oh, and there is no right or wrong way to grieve.
Just your way.