According to Websters New World Law Dictionary (2010), death is "the end of life, when physical functions and vital signs stop." This dictionary further suggests that brain death is an "irreversible end to the functioning of the brain" which the dictionary says is often used as the legal definition.
An ethical definition of death is difficult because ethics are different for different people. My definition would be the same as the legal definition: If an individual ceases to breath and their physical and vital signs have stopped, they are dead. However, in cases where someone is in a coma for several years, or when someone has a terminal illness and wants to be euthanized, ethics come more into play in determining what is "right" or "wrong" in each situation (Santrock, 2008).
Each culture sees death and mourning differently. In many cultures, the community is an integral part of the mourning. As an example, the Amish community works together when someone dies. A neighbor will make sure that everyone knows about it and the family will be supported for a year after the death. The Amish engage the family in moving forward by visiting them, bringing scrapbooks and homemade items, and starting new work projects for the widow. The Amish people also will hold the funeral in a house during the winter months or in a barn during the warmer months. It is the community that takes care of all the arrangements, including burial (Santrock, 2008).
If an individual is working with children, it is helpful to know the developmental stages that children follow when they are growing and learning. Understanding the various theories -- psychoanalytic, behavioral and so forth gives an understanding of how small children develop through the lifespan.
Understanding how humans evolve from birth to old age is important to the scholar-practitioner because this knowledge puts into perspective the various changes a person goes