3.3 Death & Dying: Current Customs & Rituals

Cultures and religions around the world use a wide variety of different rituals, ceremonies and practices relating to dying and death. Despite diversity in form and style, there are some cross-cultural similarities in rituals and ceremonies, with many involving the sharing of food, expectations regarding appropriate attire, spending time with loved ones, and the use of song, prayer, and celebrations. The remainder of this chapter explores a sampling of some death and dying beliefs and practices around the globe.

Death & Dying: Cultural and Religious Perspectives

In the following video Rochelle Wong from Vanderbilt University’s School of Medicine discusses death and dying across cultures.


Click the links to learn more about funeral rituals associated with some religions of the world:

Buddhist Funeral Service Rituals

painting of a Buddist monk sitting in front of a temple in the distance at sunrise
Buddhism Monk Temple.

Christian Funeral Service Rituals

Berlin Cathedral Sculpture of Christ sculpture in front of ornate arch
Berlin Cathedral Sculpture.

Hindu Funeral Customs and Rituals

Hindu Minikarnika cremation ghat in Varanasi, with people in row boats
Manikarnika Cremation Ghat.

Islamic Funeral Customs and Service Rituals

mosque in Abu Dhabi with ornate covered walkway and glossy tiles
Mosque in Abu Dhabi.

Jewish Funeral Service Rituals

Star of David Symbol on cloth with Old Testament in Hebrew
Star of David Symbol.

Sikh Funeral Service Rituals

Amritsar Golden Temple reflecting in the water, with people in the front of the temple.
Amritsar Golden Temple.

Wiccan Funeral Service Rituals

a person covering a lighted candle
Candles play a vital role in many Wiccan services as they represent light and the crossing over of the deceased soul (FuneralWise, n.d.-g).


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On Death and Dying (Original) Copyright © 2022 by Jacqueline Lewis is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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