nickgowers i quite agree with you. society has a lot of problems with death and life for that matter. we in western society cannot even cope with death of humans. in humans there is no easy way but our society gives very little support to pain management and easy death where an animal seems to have more rights here, or our ability to cope or to get support for such grief. this subject i really want to make people think of these things and mull them over. we cannot run away from death as we are all going to have to face it, we live so we must eat. both we must think about and must not run away from.
It's really a topic for another thread but I think you've hit the nail on the head here. Since modern medicine found so many ways to prevent deaths that were normal in previous societies, we've come to assume that death is optional, not mandatory. The majority of kids now grow up without having seen a single person die but 100 years ago, seeing a close relative die from consumption, TB, measles, smallpox, whooping cough, diptheria ... the list goes on - was bog normal. It was distressing, and people cried and ached and mourned the loss of their loved ones, but the support for the bereaved was greater because everyone had gone through it. There were protocols for what you did and what you said and how you did it.
Nowadays, people are uncomfortable to the point of fear or phobia about death - about their own death, about that of friends and family, and particularly about animals. Heck, they're uncomfortable about obvious signs of ageing, because getting older means getting closer to death. There is no differentiation between "murder" (which shouldn't happen) and "killing to eat" (which does), and so all death - natural, imposed, etc - is seen as "murder" and "wrong".
I wouldn't want to go back to those earlier ages - I wouldn't survive them myself, for a start - but there must be a way of bringing our society back to a more healthy relationship with death and dying ...