Dealing with Death

By: Vitoria Ferrara

Catholicism

What kind of rituals or superstitions surround death in this culture/religion?

  • Christian burial has been an integral part of Catholic life

Are there speeches/homilies/orations given for the deceased? How are they given? In what venues?

  • commends the dead to God's merciful love and pleads for the forgiveness of their sins
  • This adaptation normally happens after the communion prayer and before the final commendation
  • at a funeral

Are there specific clothes, artwork, or other cultural memorials around death?

  • No

Are there religious rites/services surrounding death? Describe them.

  • family members and friends often have Mass celebrated for the peace of the soul of the deceased person. On special occasions such as the deceased’s birthday, Christmas or anniversary of the death, family and friends will often visit the grave. Flowers or other objects to remember the deceased are sometimes placed on the grave as a sign of respect.

Are there food traditions surrounding death in this culture/religion?

  • no

What burial or bodily rites does this culture/religion practice?

  • Family members and friends along with the priest pray once again for the deceased person as they commit the body or cremated remains to the final resting-place. The gravesite is also blessed.

Jewish

What kind of rituals or superstitions surround death in this culture/religion?

  • Jews believe that when they die they will go to Heaven to be with God. This next world is called Olam HaEmet or ‘the world of truth’. Death is seen as a part of life and a part of God’s plan.

Are there speeches/homilies/orations given for the deceased? How are they given? In what venues?

  • All eulogies should seek to both praise the life of the deceased and express grief over the death.
  • the funeral may be held in a synagogue, at the gravesite, or at the funeral home

Are there specific clothes, artwork, or other cultural memorials around death?

  • Pallbearers will carry the casket to the grave.
  • A family member will throw a handful of earth in the casket with the body. This is to put the body in close contact with the earth.
  • Jewish law says each grave must have a tombstone to remember the deceased.
  • Flowers are generally not used at Jewish funerals, nor are they placed on the grave, visitors to the grave often leave a small stone as a token.

Are there religious rites/services surrounding death? Describe them.

  • A candle is lit after returning from the cemetery to mark seven days of mourning called Shivah. This is when people can offer sympathies to the mourners.
  • Each year the anniversary of the death is commemorated according to the Hebrew calendar. This day is observed as a solemn day of remembrance.

Are there food traditions surrounding death in this culture/religion?

  • A meal is prepared by friends to help the mourners regain their strength

What burial or bodily rites does this culture/religion practice?

  • Jews may not be cremated or embalmed.
  • In Israel a coffin might not always be used but outside of Israel a coffin is almost always used. The body is wrapped in a white shroud.
  • Mourners have the opportunity to express anguish. Tears are seen as a sign of sadness and show that the mourner is confronting death.
  • Mourners also tear their clothing as an expression of grief.
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Jehovah's Witness

What kind of rituals or superstitions surround death in this culture/religion?

  • Jehovah’s Witnesses believe that when they die they go into a kind of sleep until God resurrects them from the dead.
  • Those who gain entrance to heaven will live with God but the vast majority of mankind will be resurrected to a restored paradise on earth.

Are there speeches/homilies/orations given for the deceased? How are they given? In what venues?

  • A committal service may take place at the graveside if this is the wish of the family. It would include prayers and scripture, which will once again be lead by the church elder.

Are there specific clothes, artwork, or other cultural memorials around death?

  • Mourners will usually wear dignified clothing in muted colours out of respect for the deceased.
  • A church elder runs the service with a sermon, prayers and singing

Are there religious rites/services surrounding death? Describe them.

  • Mourners gather at the family’s house so friends and relatives can offer their sympathies.
  • Flowers and cards are usually sent.
  • Family and friends may come and visit the grave in the coming years to remember the deceased

Are there food traditions surrounding death in this culture/religion?

  • no

What burial or bodily rites does this culture/religion practice?

  • No rituals are performed at time of death but an elder will give comfort to friends and family of the deceased.