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Bill T.Jones (left) with his lover and partner, the late Arnie Zane, to whom some of Jones’s work has been dedicated.

Many theorists have discussed the stages of dying, death, and grief. In general, the stages in the process of dying are culturally determined: how the patient and loved ones feel about an impending death and what they do or do not do to prepare for it or fight against it are in large part determined by the cultural meanings attached to the cause of death. A sudden death has different meanings for survivors than does a long, drawn-out death, and the death of a young person may have different meanings than the death of an older one-both for the person dying and for those surviving. For those who see illness as punishment for bad deeds or bad thoughts or when illness is seen as a reflection on the larger family or social group, death and dying present additional layers of meaning.