Rituals and traditions followed during death can offer peace and comfort to the dying, the family and friends of the dying, as well as to the community the person is a part of. Depending on a person's beliefs, rituals through death can be initiated by ways of culture, religion, or history. The rituals and traditions that one follows throughout death differ throughout the world. While ever-changing, rituals surrounding death affect people's pasts, presents, and futures. The ceremonies surrounding the death of Jacob Kovitz, as written about by Barbara Myerhoff, are far different than those provided by the Tibetan Book of the Dead. Strengthening relationships between the dying and the living, in order to commemorate them, like in Jacob's death, gives peace to the living as well as the dying. Strengthening these relations gives the dying the tranquility of knowing that their loved ones are close by and will remember them and the impact of their existence even though they have passed on. For the living, offering their support and strength has provided their loved one with a sense of calmness during their time of death. At the opposite end of the spectrum, the dead or dying may choose to relinquish their attachments from the world, as provided in the Tibetan Book of the Dead. Although it is still a sad and sorrowful time, death is peaceful to the dying, as they view passing as a mode of transportation to a new and beautiful life through reincarnation. Both of these ways of conducting rituals offer some sort of serenity through something as looming and uncertain as death, for "when we catch ourselves making up rituals, we may see all our most precious, basic understandings, the precepts we live by, as mere desperate wishes and dreams." (Meyerhoff, 1996:395).
The rituals surrounding Jacob Kovitz's death are in existence to provide him, his family, and his community with peace and resounding certainty that his life will not be forgotten, and that he will...
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