Death: Life’s Contract Every person born into the world is automatically signed to life’s contract. No contract is the same, but they all eventually come to an end with death. In the 1900’s life’s contracts were much different. They were shorter and had different conducts. However, times have changed with people living longer and death being looked at in a completely different light. Death hasn’t left life’s contract, but it’s made some major changes.
At the beginning of the 20th century, for every 1000 live births, six to nine women in the United States died of pregnancy-related complications, and approximately 100 infants died before the age of 1. The life expectancy was 47 years of age. Only one person in 25 had then survived to age 60. If this longevity had remained the same to our present day, only half of those born in 2000 would be alive today. Today, life expectancy has changed dramatically, as the average person in the United States is expected to live to be about 77 years old.Order now
Increases in life expectancy in the 20th century are often attributed to a combination of nutrition, changes in overall public health, and advances in medicine. Women used to have shorter lives due to childbirth. Now females have a longer life expectancy than males. Women are expected to live to be about 79. 4 years old while men are only expected to live for about 73. 6 years. These added years to our lives have completely altered the American family. The average number of people in a household in the 1900s was seven or more.
The common average now is less than three. Couples are waiting longer periods to get married and start families. With infant mortality rates at an all time low, an abundant amount of children is no longer needed for survival. Instead of having 4 to 5 children, most couples stop conceiving after 1 or 2. With a major increase in women joining the workforce, two incomes is now enough to support a family. Children also are able to have relationships with their grandparents and even some great grandparents.
Closer bonds and deeper connections can be made with every family member without the worry that death could be near by. However, this increase in prolonged existence also has its consequences. Couples were once expected to marry and reproduce at a young age in order to ensure their families continuation. Women who now wait later to conceive are finding it harder to have children and may have to turn to other options, such as in vitro fertilization or adoption. Marriages usually ended when one spouse or both died. Divorce was rare was rare, only 84 males per 100,000 and 114 per 100,000 for women.
Half of marriages now end in divorce and remarriage with extended families is very common. There is also the epidemiologic transition we are currently going through. The most ways of death in the 1900s were pneumonia, tuberculosis and diarrhea. These are almost unheard of now thanks to the development of penicillin, antibiotics, and other medical advances. However, as life expectancy has increased and birth rates decreased, we have reached an age were the elderly are now becoming the majority. As more senior citizens retire, the need for physical labor increases.
The health care system also faces a dilemma as more and more facilities fill up with the elderly who suffer from the more common illnesses, cardiovascular disease or cancer. Who will take care of them as the demand for youths in the workforce increase? This is the first time the world has had to face this problem, but it will soon be up to America’s young to find a solution to this situation. Although Americans are living longer, we still face death one way or the other. Heart disease, cancer, car accidents, and even obesity have now become the leading causes of death to Americans.
When death does strike especially on younger persons, it is viewed as a tragedy because we see death as an event that happens in old age. Unlike in the 1900s when it was something to be expected and much more frequent. When someone does is dying or does die, proper arrangements are made. Living wills are created, computer records regarding books of a business or personal assets have to be looked at, unpaid bills taken care of, estate sales established, funeral or cremation plans must be arranged, and the proper time to grieve must all come into effect when death is upon an average American family.
There seems to be quite a checklist now-a-days. In the 1900s death was a little bit more toned down. When a person was close to death, a doctor or priest would check their status, then would progress to die in the comforts of their home surrounded by friends and family. Modern day Americans think this is an ideal way to leave the world. Unfortunately, for most Americans their last days are spent in the hospital. Whether they are dying from some chronic disease, car accident, or are in some state of coma; doctors have found ways to keep people alive in the most unthinkable situations.
Life support, breathing ventilators, or heavy doses of medication can keep patients alive for as long as possible, contributing to a longer life expectancy. However, time does eventually run out. For those who do not care to die at the hand of their practitioner, hospice care has become a popular way of enabling people to stay home for their final days. Out of respect for the dead communities in the 1900s would show their condolence by bringing food or ringing church bells at the initial death. The only time death got major media attention was for capitol punishment.
From the 1920s to the 1940s, there was resurgence in the use of the death penalty. This was due, in part, to the writings of criminologists, who argued that the death penalty was a necessary social measure. In the United States, Americans were suffering through Prohibition and the Great Depression. There were more executions in the 1930s than in any other decade in American history, an average of 167 per year. However, in the early 1960s, it was suggested that the death penalty was a “cruel and unusual” punishment, and therefore unconstitutional under the Eighth Amendment.
Since then, capitol punishment has lost much of its popularity. Most of the media concerning individual death now comes from celebrities or high ranking status individuals. Michael Jackson for example, has been dead for a year, but we still continuously hear about his death. Another source of death coverage done by the media is over catastrophe. World War II, September 11, and Hurricane Katrina all resulted in mass tragic deaths. These kinds of disasters were unheard of in 1900. Man and Mother Nature have become much more violent in the past few decades it seems. People now look at death in a whole new way.
It’s not just a part of life, but it’s something we fear. People don’t seem accept it as openly as they did a hundred years ago. Most people I think are just in plain denial that will happen to them. Despite present day opinions, death is inevitable. It is in our life contract and one day everyone will have to face it. Many changes have occurred over time and our perception of death will continue to expand. Since 1900 people have turned to religion as a source of comfort that there is an afterlife, others believe in reincarnation, and then there are those who think we will simply just cease to exist.
All that matters is that one day we will stop breathing, our hearts will no long pump, and our contract will be up. References •Forrest JD. Contraceptive use in the United States: past, present and future. Advances in Population. 1994; 2:29-48. •Moore, R. I. (1990). The Formation of a Persecuting Society: Power and Deviance in Western Europe, 950-1250. Oxford, Blackwell. On the definition of the “Other”; orthodoxy begets heterodoxy. •Smale, David A. (1993). Davies’ Law of Burial, Cremation and Exhumation. Sixth Edition. Crayford: Shaw and Sons.