Rituals Surrounding Death and Grieving

Rituals Surrounding Death and Grieving

It is always an emotional experience when one dies. Regardless of the circumstances, it is challenging to deal with death, especially when a close relative passes. Even though there is no best way to deal with death, mourning is one of them. Almost every culture or religion has diverse traditions associated with mourning. The process of mourning can be traced to several decades back. According to archaeologists, hominids had their burials and rituals when a member passes on (Eyetsemitan, 2011). The humans were buried along valuable tools including jewelry and flowers.  In the modern times, there are different burial rituals. However, the objectives of the rituals are to come to terms with death.

Christianity has different traditions, hence have diverse mourning rules. The ritual of wearing black attire started during the Roman times. For the Catholic, funeral services are referred to as a wake.  At times a wake occurs between burial and death. It usually takes place at the family’s house. According to Gire (2014), the Greek Orthodox Christian defines death as the detachment of the soul from the body. Moreover, it is believed that partial judgment starts, immediately when someone passes on.  There are different paths linked to Christianity, which has diverse traditions. Most Christians mourn during funeral services whereby family members and friends pray for the departed souls.

Consequently, Hindus do not perceive death as the end of life. Therefore, they do not mourn after one dies.  It is believed that the soul goes via different bodies. Death is viewed as a change but not an end in life. Consequently, when one passes on an oil lamp is placed next to the body, and it is left to stay there for about three days. On the 13th day, the body is cremated. The family of the deceased person is viewed as ritually impure (Gire, 2014). Therefore, the family members are not allowed to give alms, visit sacred sites or attend religious ceremonies. Islam is also characterized by a fixed mourning period. Widows are required to mourn for four lunar months and additional ten days. During the mourning period, mourners are not required to put on decorative clothing or jewelry (Eyetsemitan, 2011).

It is evident that every religion has distinct mourning practices. Nonetheless, there are common features to all the mentioned traditions. These include clothing, ritual foods, and behavioral rules. In most of the cases, the family of the deceased person is viewed as ritually impure. Additionally, candles are forms of commemoration. The purposes of the rituals regardless of the cultural group are to come to terms with death as well as honor life (Lobar, Youngblut & Brooten, 2006).

In case I was attending the funeral ceremony of Catholics, I will put on black attire as a way of identifying with the mourners. Consequently, I will light a candle, because it is a way of commemorating the dead. As a way of communicating, I will also pray for the dead person and the family.

In conclusion, the research has impacted on the way I view culture and cultural difference, particularly on issues associated with death and grieving. The research made me appreciate the fact that people perceive death and grieving differently. In some cultures, it is a way of celebrating life while in others it is an end to life. However, in all of them, rituals and practices involve identifying with the death.



Eyetsemitan, F. (2011). Cultural Interpretation of Dying and Death in a Non-Western Society: The Case of Nigeria. Online Readings in Psychology and Culture, 10(3), 1-10.

Gire, J. (2014). How Death Imitates Life: Cultural Influences on Conceptions of Death and Dying. Online Readings in Psychology and Culture, 6(2). 2-22. http://dx.doi.org/10.9707/2307-0919.1120

Lobar, S. L., Youngblut, J. M., & Brooten, D. (2006). Cross-cultural beliefs, ceremonies, and rituals surrounding death of a loved one. Pediatric nursing, 32(1), 44-50.

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