Farewells by the Dying: A Sociological Study

Allan Kellehear*, Terry Lewin

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This article presents a sociological description and analysis of farewell conduct in an Australian sample of 100 terminally ill cancer patients. Farewells already made before the research interviews and those that were desired and planned are outlined. Sociological functions which can be surmised from this conduct are discussed. The decision not to farewell and the reasons underlying this choice are examined. Eighty-one percent of the respondents reported a desire to farewell. Most expressed a desire for these to take place late in the course of their dying. Important to the timing of farewells were considerations concerning: 1) the nature of certain relationships; 2) the physical proximity to these; and 3) the type of farewells desired. Prominent in preferred styles of farewells were the gift, the conversation, and the letter.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)275-292
Number of pages8
JournalOmega: Journal of Death and Dying
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 1989
Externally publishedYes

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