Mankind’s history of burial practices and funeral customs are as old as civilization itself. There is no specific way to planning a funeral. Every civilization and culture has provided for their dead in different ways. Religion and personal beliefs play an important role in the burial practices and funeral customs of a given culture or civilization. Furthermore, each civilization and cultured ever studied have three things in common: some type of funeral rites, rituals, and ceremonies; A sacred place for the dead; and memorialization of the dead. As far back as the time of Christ, burials have been noted to take place. In time burial and funeral customs have become very distinct, interesting and expensive. In post-industrial America, along with the rest of the western societies, grave burials are the most common method of disposal. However, cremation, although popular in many countries, is still very unpopular in western societies. As I found in my research, funerals can be expensive. Planning a funeral is no easy thing, though we know is the only part of life that is certain, many individuals are far from thinking about what casket to choose. This was truly an experience I will never forget.
Before defining death, we must know what life is. Life is defined as the condition that distinguishes organisms from inorganic objects and dead organisms, being manifested by growth through metabolism, reproduction, and the power of adaptation to environment through changes originating internally. On the other hand, legal death, which deals with a human life, is when an individual suffers irreversible cessation of all circulatory and respiratory functions, or irreversible cessation of all functions of the entire brain, including the brain stem is dead. The legal definition of death is adopted under the Uniformed Death and Determination Act (UDDA). The UDDA is a draft state law that was approved for the US in 1980 by the National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws. Today all fifty states and the District of Columbia follow the UDDA as a legal standard of death and it is intended "to provide a comprehensive and medically sound basis for determining death in all situations". The UDDA has met a number of critics stating that there is no need to maintain the first half of the definition within the law. Due to technological advances, what death was once thought of has changed. The development of CPR and prompt defibrillation rendered the previous definition inadequate because breathing and heartbeat can sometimes be restarted. This is now called "clinical death”. Historical View
Scientists have found burial grounds of Neanderthal man dating to 60,000 BC with animal antlers on the body and flower fragments near the deceased’s remains indicating some type of ritual practice. Interestingly, some early cultures treated men and women differently upon their death. For example, the Ghonds buried their women but cremated their men. In the time of Christ it was custom for the dead to be buried, embalming and cremation were generally not allowed. Preparation consisted of wrapping the body and the application of oils and spices. In the bible, Jesus’ burial is described as such, “39) He was accompanied by Nicodemus, the man who earlier had visited Jesus at night. Nicodemus brought a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about seventy-five pounds. 40) Taking Jesus' body, the two of them wrapped it, with the spices, in strips of linen. This was in accordance with Jewish burial customs” (John 19:39-40). In this passage we read how the Jewish attended to their dead. Oils and spices were often used, and linen was used to cover the body. In Jewish burials today bodies are dressed in white cloth, called shrouds. Moreover, it is through Egyptian burials that we know much about there culture and society. Egyptians’ elaborate display of tombs has provided us with numerous insights to their...
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