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South Polls Living and Dyingin Dixie BY JOHN SHELTON REED Is there a distinctive "southern way of deadi"? If so, how many southerners adhere to it? Is it dying? In February and March of 1997 the Southern Focus PoU interviewed by telephone 81 5 residents of southern states (Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North CaroUna, Oklahoma, South CaroUna, Tennessee, Texas, and Virginia) and 407 residents of nonsouthern states. Respondents were asked to answer "a few questions about funerals and some ofthe practices and rituals we have about death and dying." The results are displayed below, along with responses to a question about puUing over for funerals, which was asked during an earUer survey. Southerners are somewhat more likely than other Americans to have been to services or wakes in private homes, to have been to open-casket services and services involving conspicuous displays of emotion, to have visited a cemetery recently , to think about their own death often, and to puU over for funerals. That they are more Hkely to report the recent death of "a close friend or famüy member " may suggest a more inclusive definition of those categories. Cremation may be becoming more frequent in the South, but it appears that it wiU remain less common there than elsewhere for some time to come. Within the South, these "southern" ways are more common in the Deep South, among Ufelong residents of die region, and in rural areas. They are also more common among frequent churchgoers, usually among women, and among African Americans. (Differences by education, income, and party preference largely reflect differences between blacks and whites.) They are also more common among older respondents—except that the young are more Hkely to think about their own death often. 106 South Nonsouth "Have you ever been to a wake, viewing, or funeral service in someone's private home? "Was the body of the deceased present ?" "Was there an open casket?" "Have you ever been to a wake, viewing, or funeral service where people were so upset that they were waüing and moaning?" "Have any ofyour close relatives ever been cremated?" "Widiin the past twelve montiis, has anyone you considered a close friend or family member died?' "Do you puU over for funerals?" (FaU 1994 Southern Focus PoU; asked only of those with vehicles) % responding "yes" 3928 3224 3022 60 18 63 88 54 34 54 79 "How Hkely do you think it is that you wül ask your survivors to have your body cremated?" ''Within the past twelve months, about how many times did you visit a cemetery?* "On a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being never and 10 being aU the time, how often would you say you think about your own deadi?" % responding "somewhat Hkely" or "very Hkely" 3847 % responding "more than once" 5046 mean 4.143.94 % responding "aU the time" 6 2 South Polls 1 07 AMONG SOUTHERN RESPONDENTS PuU over** Been to viewing in home Think of own Cremation deadi unHkely Southern total Deep South* Peripheral South Lived in Soudi aUUfe more than ten years ten years or less Residence at age 16 South Non-South Considers self a southerner Does not MetropoHtan residence NonmetropoHtan White Black Other Male Female Age 8-24 25-44 45-64 65 + Education 11th grade or less high school grad some coUege coUege grad 88% 90 88 90 89 84 89 86 90 85 86 92 88 91 84 85 91 86 87 89 92 92 90 89 84 39% 45 37 41 41 31 39 34 42 33 39 41 41 32 33 42 37 20 32 52 53 40 37 42 39 6% 8 5 6 2 4 6 4 6 6 3 23 5 4 7 10 6 4 4 14 7 3 3 62% 75 58 71 49 43 69 42 70 43 59 70 62 74 56 60 65 63 60 64 64 75 69 58 56 io8 JOHN SHELTON REED PuU over* Been to viewing in home Think of own Cremation deathunHkely Household income under $20,000 $20,000-$40,000 $40,000-$60,000 $60,000 + National poHtics RepubUcan Democrat Independent other Church attendance...


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