How Sacred Is Secular Death? And just how Secular Can Sacred Death Be? A Theoretical Proposal

p. 441-460
I aim to show that the average experience of death in late modernity tends to come nearer to the sacred while growing apart from religion; and that, moreover, the average approach of death in late modernity has a strong ‘built-in’ medical side. I will try to argue that the late modern most frequent approaches of death pay explicit tribute to a very ambitious medical project of Cure and/or Failure. Such project has slowly but surely become a sheltering canopy and replaced religion not only in its means and goals, but also in its power to provide a widely-shared ‘savoir mourir’. The impossibility of superposing the notion of ‘sacred’ and the notion of ‘religion’, the necessity of considering the experience of the sacred in a broader cultural context, and, finally, the dynamic relationship between the process of secularization and a process of sacralization as a catalyst of modern spirituality are important theoretical aspects that should be taken into account when studying death and dying in present times.
the sacred, the secular, sociology of death and dying, medicine, religion.