It is important to understand the various religious and cultural perspectives on death. It is apparent that death for a close friend or a family member becomes a difficult task to everyone. Most people’s thinks about difficult aspects of life which relate to death. Different religions have strong viewpoints regarding life and death. Apart from regional beliefs, there are cultural beliefs concerning death, and they vary widely. The various cultural perspectives shape people’s reaction and influence how individual interpret the meaning of traumatic events. It is, therefore, important to understand the various cultural and religious perspectives on death (Lobar and Dorothy, 44).
Death is indeed a universal human experience. There are various religious beliefs associated with death and dying and the procedures undertaken during the burial ritual or funeral. In today’s society, several sources describe the religion practices which cover the aspects of death and dying. The different World’s religion beliefs and practices on death are discussed below:
Buddhist believed that when they die, they will be born again. They believed that rebirth is to escape the cycle of death and attain the state of perfect peace. Buddhiest believed that when people pass away, they are in a happy state of rebirth. The dead body is treated with respect so that their bodies can have a happy state. Buddhists believed that when a person dies, his spirit leaves the body immediately but it remains near the body.
The funeral preparation of Buddies differs a lot because there so many different types. In most cases, Buddies funerals are held at the crematorium chapel. Objects surround the coffin, and they have a great impact on the person who has died. The dead person may be cremated or buried; this depends on the tradition (Lobar and Dorothy, 44).
After every practice, the family and friends remember the person who had passed away through visiting the grave. The gravesite value depends on the Buddhists traditions. As stated earlier, Buddhists believe that once a person dies his or her spirit is reborn but only the physical body lies in the grave. The deceased person is respected, and Buddhists wish him or her happiness through doing things. In Buddhism, Lord Buddha came to a conclusion that death is inevitable for those who thinks about worldly pleasure and attitudes. People from this religion believe that death awakens because when a person dies, he is reborn to a new life.
The Catholics believed about the afterlife. Catholic believes that when people die they will see God face to face if only they repent. If a person fails to repent before his death, he will not enter the kingdom of heaven. Death preparation among Catholics involves where the elderly and the sick receive the Sacrament of the anointing regularly. It is an anointing that involves the Holy Oils, reception of Sacrament and Holy Communion. After a person dies, the priest is responsible for comforting the family and helping them prepare the funeral arrangement (Iranmanesh and Abbas, 214).
The rite of the Catholic funeral is known as the order of Christian funeral. Friends and family mourn and prays that the soul of the deceased to be received in the internal glory. In most cases, a prayer service is conducted the night before the funeral the funeral day there is the celebration of the Requiem Mass service for the deceased. The mass service includes prayer, hymns, and scriptures. Family and friends take part in the service. During the burial ceremony, the rite of committal is celebrated at the grave. The priest prays once again together with the family and friends as he commits the body to a final resting place. After that, the priest blesses the gravesite. Family and friends also remember the soul of the deceased person through regular mass celebrations. They tend to visit the gravesite and place various flowers and objects to show respect to the deceased (Lobar and Dorothy, 44).
The Christians believed to go to heaven after they have died. The Christian funeral is a time of joy, although family and friends will be sad because of losing their love ones. After a person has died, the church minister, family and friends are responsible for Funeral preparation. Different customs are followed depending on the form of Christianity or a particular church. The church minister comforts family, and assists them in organizing the funeral. The friends comfort the deceased family as they send their donations to express their condolences. At times, they may express sympathy through the cards or give flowers to the family (Iranmanesh and Abbas, 214).
The dead person may be buried or cremated depending on the Christianity preferences. The ceremony may be held in various places; it may be either at church or the funeral home. Prayers, hymns, and readings are conducted by the both the Minister, friends and family. There is always opportunity for friends and family to view the body and say goodbye before he is buried. During the ceremony, the casket is present in the room and then afterward it is carried out by pallbearers. Normally, pallbearers are the family members of the deceased. When the deceased is cremated the ash may be scattered or buried in a cemetery, and then a mark is placed on the gravestone to remember the deceased (Dezutter,et al, 92). A special occasion may be held as family and friends visit to remember the deceased. It is an occasion that may involve the either death anniversary or the birthday of the deceased. During this time, flowers and other objects are placed on the grave to show respect.
Muslims believed that a soul exists after death. It is apparent that death is considered as an act of God according to the Islamic religion. Once a person dies, the friends visit the house of the deceased to know how the death occurred. The deceased family isn’t left alone for seven days, and the food is brought by neighbors and friends during those seven days. According to the Islamic traditions, television or musical instruments were not allowed within the 40 days after someone dies. These traditions beliefs don’t exist in the recent years (Koenig and Jan, 244).
Muslims believe Allah will judge them once the Day of Judgment arrives. The Islamic religion conducts prayers on a daily basis. They mainly do so as they prepare for death which may occur at any time or day. When a person dies, the family and friend gather together to recite the Koran and pray for the deceased. The dead body is laid out with the eyes closed and the arms across the chest facing the Muslim holy city known as Mecca. The dead body is washed and wrapped in white clothing and a prayer is said. Contact between the Non-Muslim is discouraged ( Iranmanesh and Abbas, 214).
Regarding the Muslim funeral, the body is buried within 24 hours. The deceased is buried in the Muslim cemetery, and funeral services will involve Koran readings and prayers. Women aren’t allowed in the graveyard before burial prayer is recited. Excessive grief is discouraged from mourners, and the body cementation isn’t permitted. The deceased is buried in a chamber instead of a coffin and the grave doesn’t have fancy decorations.
After the burial, there are three days of mourning where visitors go to the deceased family to remember the departed. During this time, a special meal is prepared. Mourners avoid decorative clothing during this time. As stated, according to Muslims beliefs the dead body must be washed with certain rituals before the funeral ceremony. It is not pleasing if the body was buried without being washed. Usually, the body is washed in a special place in the mosque or the hospital morgue (Erdoğdu,84).
Hindus believed in reincarnations. Once a person dies, there is sadness, and at the same time, there is a celebration. If a person is about to die, the priest prays, sings the holy songs and reads the holy texts. The family Prays around the body when a person dies. According to Hindus, touching the dead body is considered unclean, and people avoided it. Like Muslims, the deceased is bathed and dressed in white Indian clothing (Dezutter,et al, 92).
During crematorium, prayers were said at the entrance, and the body was decorated with flowers and sandalwood. Hindus burial involves cremation, and they believed the burnt body releases spirits. The frames or fire represented the creator. Relatives and friends gather in the home of the deceased to express their sympathy. After the funeral, mourners should bathe and change their clothes before entering the house (Koenig and Jan, 244). After one year, an event is conducted in memory of the deceased. During this event, the food was given to the poor in memory of the deceased. The family members are not supposed to go to parties or buy any clothing during Shradh which means one year or an annual event (Erdoğdu, 84).
Finally, religion role is immense, and when death comes, no one can ignore the religious viewpoints. Most cultures believe the death and grief is a normal life event and different ways of coping with it.
Dezutter, Jessie, et al. “The role of religion in death attitudes: Distinguishing between religious belief and style of processing religious contents.” Death studies 33.1 (2008): 73-92.
Erdoğdu, Mustafa Yüksel. “Predicting death anxiety by psychological dispositions of individuals from different religions.” Erciyes Medical Journal30.2 (2008): 84-91.
Iranmanesh, Sedigheh, Stefan Savenstedt, and Abbas Abbaszadeh. “Student nurses’ attitudes towards death and dying in south-east Iran.” International journal of palliative nursing 14.5 (2008): 214-219.
Koenig, Barbara A., and Jan Gates-Williams. “Understanding cultural difference in caring for dying patients.” Western Journal of Medicine 163.3 (1995): 244.
Lobar, Sandra L., JoAnne M. Youngblut, and Dorothy Brooten. “Cross-cultural beliefs, ceremonies, and rituals surrounding death of a loved one.” Pediatric nursing 32.1 (2006): 44.
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