The culture behind death rituals and closure
Death is an all-natural cycle of life that is unavoidable and affects everyone deeply when a loved one dies. Often death is a strange and somber experience for the living as many questions arise in the living as the soul of the dead has gone into the unknown, and what happens after death is a mystery to the living. Death often causes much anxiety for the living as we often fear losing control and fear what we don’t understand. rituals are an opportunity for all the mourning individuals of the deceased to experience communal support and know that they are not alone. These rituals have been around for an extremely long time and are a way for the living to express what they fear and believe about death in a way to pay respect to the deceased and experience closure. Quite often the circumstance of death puts the living in a situation of uncertainty. It is said that a death ritual is a physical, emotional, and spiritual event and because everyone sees the world differently and has unique views on what should happen during and after death will be different. Individuals need to determine what they wish to do with the physical body and come to terms with what happens to the soul after an individual has died. While a death ritual can be anything, it’s usually a combination of what the deceased would have wanted, and what the family believes even income can impact the end decision for the ritual performed after a person is passed.
humans are highly intelligent and sensitive beings with extremely complex and deep emotions and thoughts. It is only natural that when someone has died that we as humans have the need to come to terms with what we have experienced. Because of this, humans have developed a wide range of views revolving what to do after someone has passed away. For example, in many cultures. It is quite common for individuals to shut the eyes of the deceased and may even decide to place weighted objects over the eyelids to ensure the eyes stay shut, or even cover the body with the sheet not only as symbolism that a person is passed, but also because many individuals view this as respect for the deceased. Doing this is also symbolic because it is shown as a form of separation from the living.
Another extremely important ritual involving the deceased is disposing of the body. There are many ways that the body can then be disposed of which will be determined usually based off spiritual beliefs. For some, what happens to the body is not important as what is valuable is the spirit it is possible that people who believe this may choose cremation which is burning the body to ash at a very high temperature. Fire is seen as an extremely powerful element that is cleansing for the soul. Cremation can be symbolic for the end of physical life in releasing the spirit so it may cut ties with the world of the living and rise with the smoke to meet with God. Another reason. Cremation has been used in the past is to prevent the spread of contagious illnesses and diseases as fire can kill bacteria.
Finally, individuals may choose methods like embalming as a form of ritual. Embalming is said to be the science of preserving human or animal remains and is an extremely personal preference. Embalming is often seen as an art form and is used to mask the symptoms of death, to make the body appear as lifelike as possible and can be for sanitation purposes. It is said that “The art of preserving the body of the deceased has roots to Ancient Egypt as early as 6000 B.C.” and is chosen for many reasons. Many individuals are sensitive to the concept of death and may fear that if the body is not preserved, they will witness the unpleasant side effects of death. Another reason for embalming could be to postpone the funeral as preserving the body allows for more time to prepare for the upcoming rituals involved or could even be for religious reasons. Often embalming allows loved ones to view the deceased as they once did and is respectful for the individual who has passed away, especially if that individual or the loved ones wanted an open casket. Embalming is often seen as treating the deceased with dignity because instead of appearing dead the individual will look like they are sleeping.
There are many rituals involving death were not talked about in this video. For example, in many cultures it is extremely important to honor the deceased with, gifts of food. Also known as veneration of the dead, worship or offerings this ritual has been around for thousands of years and has been seen happening all over the world in Europe, Asia, Egypt and even Mexico. Many cultures do this because of various reasons revolving around the concept that after death the spirit continues to exist. Often the living will continue to feed loved ones believing that when they do this it makes the spirits of their ancestors happy and in return, the spirits will look after the well-being of the living. Sometimes when gifting ancestor’s food there can be a belief that spirits have the ability to influence aspects such as health and fortune so the living may even ask favors of the dead. Back in ancient Rome, the Romans actually built these tombs that were equipped with small tubes known as Libation Tubes the word Libation comes from the Latin term libation witch actually translates to the saying still used today “pour one out”. Libation tubes were there for the Romans to pay homage to the dead. They would usually pour wines, honeys and oil into the tubes. However, sometimes food would also be involved.
Modern cultures also participate in this tradition today it is commonly practised by many religions, such as Buddhism, Hinduism and even shamans.
Importance to families and the Community:
these rituals are important to the individual families because it is an opportunity for the family to work through the big life change and emotional turmoil that they may be going through. For some people, coping with death may be difficult, and that means that lots of support is needed and often in the process of coping being able to say goodbye to your loved one is extremely important. Having these rituals is a chance for closure. without closure it may be difficult or even impossible for individuals to move on with their own lives amongst the living. It’s natural that during death the family members of the loved one will be touched and impacted greatly.
Rituals are important to society and culture because it allows for the individuals involved to feel a sense of connection and community. Not only can a dying individual affect the family, but also the entire community. it can be extremely hard to come to terms that an individual that you care for will no longer be a part of your life. Even if the individual who has died is not a big part of your life. They might be a part of someone you’re close to who is now impacted. humans often are affected easily by life events and it will likely impact others and may be important for individuals who are not directly impacted to console the individuals they know who were affected by the death.
Despite how important death rituals are especially for closure, modern generations are becoming conscious of the environmental and economic impact of death which is becoming a great issue within today’s society and may even become more problematic in the future. Disposing of the deceased has been proven to take a toll on the environment and our future generations. For example, we are using resources to bury our bodies. A typical 10-acre cemetery enough steel, cement and wood is used up to build caskets, coffins and burial vaults the same amount of resources could be used to build about 40 homes putting a monopoly on these resources and making them more expensive. In just the US alone, about 800",000 gallons of formalin embalming fluid is buried into the ground. This is extremely problematic for the environment as these chemicals are extremely toxic and even considered a dangerous carcinogen. Formalin is now considered to be toxic waste and it’s been proven that funeral workers have a higher risk of health issues such as leukemia and prostate cancer. We are also dealing with the fact that the average burial takes up about 32 ft.² of space witch unfortunately, because of the mass amounts of people living on earth today these burials are starting to become unsustainable. Because of this, many individuals are viewing rituals differently leading to a mass change in thinking on how death rituals are to be performed.
Absence of Ritual:
If I was not able to attend the funeral, it might impact me. However, I honestly feel like it would depend on who the funeral would be for if the funeral was for an individual that I haven’t really known for very long. I might not feel it is in my right to attend said funeral and I might feel like I am imposing upon the loved ones. However, if I couldn’t attend a funeral for a loved one it be extremely hard for me to move on, especially because I would not feel I had gotten the closure I needed. I feel like I would likely be extremely drained emotionally and the great feeling of loss without closure would impact my life quality in aspects such as sleep and appetite.
The impact on the deceased person’s family if there was no ritual would be horrific. The family might be experiencing extreme amounts of distress because they might not know what has happened to their loved one, especially of the body is now missing life may not feel the same for them and it may become difficult to think of any happy moments. The family may feel guilty celebrating holidays or moving on without the closure of what happened to their loved one. The family may be religious, and in some cases, certain things have to be done to the body in order for that individual to go to heaven or move on without this, the family may live a life of stress and guilt believing that their family member will not be with them in the afterlife.
The impact on the community if there was no ritual would leave everyone with a great sense of loss, things would feel extremely different in a community would have to adjust the community may be left with many questions unanswered that could cause distress or even fearful.
Changes in Your Practice:
I feel my views have changed. On the way I plan to provide end-of-life care for my clients. All I want is to pay the proper respect of every individual deserves. And because I’m aware of dignity, independence, privacy, preference and safety. I understand that everyone has different values and beliefs. This video taught me that each individual cope with that differently, and by allowing them the opportunity to honor the death of themselves or a loved one in the way they want will allow for proper healing and closure. It is important to me that I respect the wishes in terms of the individuals involved with end-of-life, whatever that may involve. I also think it’s extremely important to make sure that I’m providing as much comfort as possible as well as making sure every individual has the dignity they deserve.
Changes in your Personal Life:
I have thought about the death rituals that I would like when I die, however, when family members die I feel it is extremely important to follow through with what they would like. It is not in my place to decide what their final wishes are but will absolutely respect what they wish. When I pass away. All I want is a ritual that is environmentally friendly and has a clean impact on future generations. My reasons for this is because I wish to have children one day and I want to make sure that they and my future grandchildren have a safe world to live in. death rituals are important to me because without them it would be extremely hard to work through my grief and inner turmoil regarding the loss of a loved one. Having a ritual is the opportunity to say goodbye. I feel like my family will be positively affected with these rituals is only the best intentions are put into place and I feel my family knows that their best interests will be looked after.