Death and Dying in Other Cultures
Death and dying are never easy for family, friends, loved ones, and the ill persons themselves. These issues are further complicated by the fact that so many different cultures are now blended in the United States, and many of them have far differing views on death and dying.
For example, in the United States, most Christians believe in burying their dead quickly, holding a ritual funeral or "celebration of life," and mourning for a certain period of time. Most Christians believe the dead will rise to Heaven and live the remainder of their "life" as an angel in the clouds above. However, this is not the only way to celebrate death and face dying.
In the Hindu culture, people believe their loved one will return to earth to live another life, depending...
In addition, some cultures do not believe in burial beneath the ground. For example, "The Parsee people of northern India still practice the ancient Zoroastrian rite of placing their dead on scaffolds known as high dakhmas ('towers of silence'), where the bones are eventually picked clean by vultures" (Aiken, 2001, p. 129). Many Hindus and Buddhists also burn or cremate the corpse, rather than burying it. Other cultures, such as Roman Catholics and Jews, do not believe in cremation at all, and feel that burial is the only way to properly deal with a death.
Many Asian cultures have far more pragmatic views on death and dying. For example, the Chinese believe death and life are closely intertwined. Another expert writes, "The process of death then is the natural and necessary transition from a conscious state to an unconscious one, from a life-body to a death-body" (Kramer, 1988, p. 85). The two forces of Yin (death) and Yang (life) are so closely related that the Chinese view death as an inevitable and unavoidable continuation of life on earth.
As with death and burial, different cultures handle the dying person differently. In America, close friends and family may gather with the person and grieve together as the person dies. Hindus urge the dying person to meditate on their life. "Buddhist teaching provides details on how a dying person should concentrate on…
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