Remembering Life

South-Korean, Russian, and Italian


Koreans believe that if a person died from illness or natural causes somewhere besides their home they will become a ghost and wander aimlessly forever. In order to prevent this from happening Koreans spend the last moments of a relative's life with them. However women are not allowed to spend the last moments of a man's life with him. The same is for men, they are prohibited from spending the last moments of a woman's life with her. Those who are with the person who has died are expected to kok (wail). Wailing allows mourning and expression of guilt for those who believe they could have done more.

Sleeveless coats are worn by men. Women wear no jewelry and do not brush their hair. A relative will take a coat to the roof of the house and call out the dead relative's name three times before taking it back to put on the dead. The deceased would also have their hands and feet bound together.

Obituaries were sent to friends, clan members, and acquaintances. The notice would be read outside of the house near the gates once received, because taking the notice inside was considered bad luck.

After being prepared for burial the body was put into a casket which was tightly sealed and placed somewhere in the house. A shrine that included pictures and documents of the deceased was set up. Guests then came and once they were gone the family would dress in sangbok, which was mourning attire that varied in length according to their relation with the deceased.

The mourning period would usually last about three days but was based on social status of the family and the deceased. If mourners go outdoors they had to wear a headpiece made of bamboo that had a large brim in order to obstruct the view of the heavens.

The funeral procession was held on the last day of mourning. When carrying the coffin to be taken to the burial site, those carrying it had to lift it three times at the gate of the house to signal the last departure from the house. People in the front of the procession would carry banners, and the coffin would be decorated with paintings of dragons and Chinese phoenixes. Dolls were then placed around the coffin to guard the deceased.
A shaman would perform a special ritual at the grave site. The eldest male mourner would take a bow and throw dirt on the coffin twice after it was lowered into the ground. Once he was finished the rest would follow and do the same. Workers would then finish covering the coffin. After it was covered the dirt would be stomped on while music was played.

After three days the family would take food to the deceased and after doing so would then return to their own homes. Two days after the second visit to the grave there was another memorial service where the family would then end the mourning ritual.


There are different traditions that surround death in the Russian culture. One example is where the family provides a comfortable coffin to carry the body, since it is seen to people as its new living room. Therefore, the family also gives necessary items to carry new life like their personal belongings, and food.

From the research, there was not heavy emphasize on if there are speeches given throughout this time of mourning. But there is still however the funeral service that allows for the family to hear about the person who has left earth.
People who attend funeral services of Russian culture, wear dark clothes, and bring a number of flowers.

There is religious services that surrounds death in Russian culture, at least when observing the Russian Orthodox Church. The funeral service will include the religious prayers, and the sending off of the person who is dead to reach the afterlife.

The unique food tradition that the culture of Russia presents is that six weeks following the death of an immediate family member, the family will leave a piece of bread on top of a drinking glass filled with vodka. This act serves the dual purpose of honoring the dead, and also of showing family members that the deceased has moved on, by virtue of seeing that the food and drink are not being consumed each night. There is also a memorial dinner that is held to honor the person who has died.


The Italian rituals that surrounds death are shown in a religious aspect. The rituals include the last rites, prayer vigil, funeral liturgy, and Catholic Mass There is different superstitions that involve Italian funerals. People fear that the spirit will try to return back earth, so the family puts the person’s favorite material possession to encourage the spirit to not come back.

There are eulogies that are given out about the one who is deceased during the time of the vigil, where people are allowed to visit, and the casket is open.

When attending the funeral, many Italians wear black, or dark clothes.

The religious service that revolves around a lost loved one is during the funeral liturgy, which it acts as a time of worship of God, and not focusing on the grief of losing a family member.

In the Italian culture, when there is news of a death, neighbors and friends will go to the family, bringing them all kinds of food. Traditionally, this would consist of people bringing casseroles desserts, wine, and more to support the family in grieving.