Death Rituals Death and Dying Essay

Download this Essay in word format (.doc)

Note: Sample below may appear distorted but all corresponding word document files contain proper formatting

Excerpt from Essay:

Viewing -- the "viewing" is not exclusively a Catholic rite, but is more traditional with Catholic services. It is also called a reviewal or funeral visitation. This is the time in which friends and the family come to see the deceased after the body has been prepared by a funeral home. A viewing may take place at a funeral parlor, in a family home, or Church/Chapel prior to the actual funeral service. It is sometimes combined with the celebration of the deceased's life, called a wake. Typically, it makes it easier for some to accept the reality of death, experiencing the viewing of a body and saying goodbye instead of interpersonal notifications ("Questions About Funerals," n.d.).

Wake -- a Wake is a cultural feature, particularly Irish, sometimes Italian, and European. It is a ceremony associated with death, typically taking place at a home or meeting hall in which people can meet, share food and drink, and celebrate the life of the deceased (Vidmar).

If a death is sudden and unexpected, Catholic rites are different than in an illness or if the family knows the end is near. If a child dies, the hope is that the child has been baptized prior to death, although modern Catholics do believe the unbaptized (the innocent) can be saved (Hutchison, 2009). For an adult, the "Last Rights" -- or in this case, the Extreme Unction, also known as the "Final Anointing." They are Confession (if the dying person is physically unable to confess, at least absolution, conditional on the existence of contrition), and the Eucharist (Catechism of the Catholic Church). The Catholic view is that when you die you go either to heaven, hell or purgatory. Purgatory is the place where you go if you are not yet worthy to enter into heaven. The souls there have to become purged of their sins so that they can be united with the All-perfect God. Catholics have biblical proof of purgatory in the book of Maccabees, which was removed from the Protestant bible ("Purgatory," 2009). Fortunately, for most of the faithful, a Catholic who has given confession and received absolution is sinless, then upon death may ascend into heaven.

Comparative Views on Suicide -- Because of the nature of the death ritual that so affected me, it is more useful for me to compare the ideas and traditions of other religious views on suicide than on the entire death ritual and process. Within the United States, the process of death and dying seems more focused on a ritual for the living -- ways to come to terms with the death of a loved one and a process to which the family or friends can use to grieve or, in the case of suicide, find some semblance of comfort and peace knowing that the person who died may still be able to find peace in death. In almost all cases, self-inflicted suicide is the result of great internal pain and depression. This could be for financial reasons, physical reasons (chemical imbalances) or simply a view of hopelessness and tragedy. The individual who commits suicide is at their breaking point, they are not thinking logically, but emotionally and find no alternative available (Andrew, 2010).

Philosophically, some see suicide as a personal right, a right of personal choice because no one should be required to suffer against their will -- especially from conditions that have no possibility of improvement. Proponents of this view reject the belief that suicide is irrational and that anyone who goes to such lengths should be denied religious comfort (Robonson, 2005). The major religions though, seem to be publically conservative and intolerant (based on dogma), yet most are privately compassionate, allowing the appropriate death rituals for the families. For instance, Islam finds that suicide is utterly detrimental to one's ultimate spiritual journey, the equivalent of an eternal sin in Christianity; Judaism forbids it as the ultimate arrogance against God, regardless of the circumstances; and although Buddhism is generally anti-suicide, it does allow for the precept that it depends on which level of enlightenment the person might be (Hood, Hill and Spilka, 2009).

Essentially, under the rubric of the ritual of death and dying; the reason for a person's death should have no effect upon the way that death is celebrated. The process of grieving is based on the needs of those left behind, it is the way in which we as humans prepare our own psyches to understand that the physical make-up of that individual is no longer with us. One does not expect to have a different process or procedure if one dies in an airplane accident, a terrorist attack, or on the roadway -- and it is the same if one dies of an illness or self-inflicted wound. The point, too, of religion is not only to have a spiritual outline to follow, but also an institution designed to provide structure and comfort during the inexplicable moments of life. This, then, should be the true nature of the ritual of death; comfort for the soul and celebration for the life of the person past.

Works Cited

20th Century Democide. (2001, January). Retrieved December 2010, from MegaNu Statistics:

Cathechism of the Catholic Church - Part 3 - Life in Christ. (2010, March). Retrieved December 2010, from the Vatican:

Andrew, L. (2010, October 21). Depression and Suicide. Retrieved December 2010, from Emedicine - WebMD:

Bokenkotter, T. (2005). A Concise History of the Catholic Church. Image Press.

Bugnini, a. (1990). The Reform of the Liturgy: 1948-1975. Liturgical Press.

Champlin, J. (1990). Through Death to Life: Preparing to Celebrate the Funeral Mass. Ave Maria Press.

Code of Canon Law." (n.d.). Liberia Editrice Vaticana. Ecclesiastical Funerals.

Cited in:

Curley, T. (2005). Planning the Catholic Funeral. Liturgical PressHood, Hill and Spilka. (2009). The Psychology of Religion: An Empirical Approach. New York: Guilford Press.

Huttenback, H. (2007, November 18). A Genocide Theory: In Search of Knoledge and the Quest for Meaning. Retrieved November 2010, from Encyclopedia of Mass Violence:

Kellehear, a. (2007). A Social History of Dying. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Kubler-Ross, E. (1969). On Death and Dying. New York: Simon and Schuster.

Kubler-Ross, E. (2005). On Grief and Grieving: Finding the meaning of Grief Through the Five Stages of Loss. New York: Simon and Schuster.

Messerli, J. (2007, march 4). Should an Incurably-Ill Patient Be Able to Commit Physician-Assisted Suicide? Retrieved December 2010, from Balaned Politics:

"Purgatory" in "Catholic Doctrine." (2009). New Advent. Cited in:

"Questions About Funerals." (n.d.). Cited in:

Rice, P. (2005). A Catholic Funeral. Ligouri Press.

Robonson, S. (2005, March 27). Europe's Way of Death. Retrieved December 2010, from Time Magainze:,9171,901050404-1042414,00.html

Vidmar, J. (2005). The Catholic Church Through the Ages: A History.

Paulist Press.[continue]

Cite This Essay:

"Death Rituals Death And Dying" (2010, December 02) Retrieved December 8, 2016, from

"Death Rituals Death And Dying" 02 December 2010. Web.8 December. 2016. <>

"Death Rituals Death And Dying", 02 December 2010, Accessed.8 December. 2016,

Other Documents Pertaining To This Topic

  • Death Rituals of Different Cultures and Countries

    Death Rituals of Different Cultures and Countries Death Rituals of different Cultures/Countries As the globe is full of numerous civilizations and cultures in a very diverse manner, similarly, their rituals, traditions and ceremonies related to life and death are also different from one another. The people belonging to these cultures have their own sets of beliefs that are witnessed through the ways they celebrate their occasions, festivals and even the death rituals

  • Egyptian Death Rituals Ancient Egyptian

    The Stress and Coping Model The stress and coping model as a perspective on the human mind concerns the connection between the mind and body. This model assumes that stress in the mind can have a physiological effect. Significant stress, for example, could have significant physical health effects. A person who is under constant stress, for example, might exhibit a lack of overall physical health or the recurrence of a specific

  • Dying on Death and Dying

    While various types of medical/religious practice had long attempted to prolong life, the emphasis of these efforts beginning during this period was placed on forestalling death. Views of Death in the Modern Era The trends that began in the Renaissance and Enlightenment periods continued into the modern era, and though the increased rationalism and emphasis on the scientific method and imperial fact served society well in many ways, this has not

  • Rituals Following Victor Turner Who

    These include factors such as the secularization and diversification of religious belief and practice; social and geographical mobility; the growth of both consumerism and environment. Christian Rituals and Evil Christianity has always had its rituals by which to confront and overcome evil. Its story is the biblical story of the unending struggle of God against chaos and sin, a story whose decisive chapter was the life and death and resurrection of

  • Death the Four Categories of

    As one performs their dharma, they earn karma, which is the cause and effect aspect of Hinduism. Karma explains good actions bring good results, and by obeying this principle and dharma, one can experience rebirth into a "better" life that puts one in a stronger position to achieve moksha. The ultimate goal for any Hindu soul is to achieve moksha, which is the liberation from samsara, the cycle of

  • Death in Jainism Is One

    However, from time immemorial, each soul has been obliged to repeatedly live and die in countless embodied forms: as a human being; an animal; a plant; a tiny unseen creature which lives only for an instant in air, water, fire, or earth; as an inhabitant of one of many terrible hells; or, as one of many classes of deity in an elaborate hierarchy of heavens. Overall, therefore, this universe

  • Understanding of Death Dying and Grieving

    Death and Dying Heard the Owl Call My Name The first dilemma in Margaret Craven's I heard the owl call my name arises within the clergy community, as a Bishop debates whether or not to tell his young Anglican missionary that the missionary only has "a little less than two years if he's lucky" (11). For some people, living out the last two years of a life in remote Indian villages

Read Full Essay
Copyright 2016 . All Rights Reserved