Death in Cross Cultural Perspectives

Topics: Death, Funeral, Burial Pages: 6 (1939 words) Published: October 1, 2008
Death in cross cultural perspectives
Death is inevitable part of human experience, which is often associated with fear of unknown, separation, and spiritual connection. Death is an individual experience, which is based on unique perceptions and beliefs. Fear of death and dying seems to be a universal phenomenon, which is closely associated with apprehension and uneasiness. Death is allied with permanent loss, thus personal experiences of grief are similar in many different cultures. There are different mourning ceremonies, traditions, and behaviors to express grief, but the concept of permanent loss remains unchanged in cross cultural setting. With this paper I will identify cross-cultural perspectives on death and dying, and will analyze multiple beliefs relating to death phenomenon. Furthermore I will identify different cultural mourning ceremonies and will analyze their impact on grieving process and coping mechanisms. Death is a universal phenomenon, but individual responses to death vary widely from culture to culture. In effort to explain the concept of death, many different cultures bring a significant symbolic meaning to the dying process in terms of rituals, ceremonies, and bereavement practices. Grieving and funeral rituals vary greatly across cultures and, in most cases, are associated with religious practices and beliefs. People tend to look at the death phenomena through the scope of their religious beliefs and often relate their personal experiences with death to cultural norms and traditions. Our culture affects the length of grieving process, mourning ceremonies, and even influence the way we cry during funerals. The mystery of death is often associated with fear and anxiety, thus it is easier for people to relate indefinite death concept to something that makes sense and brings comfort. Death in Latino culture

According to Lobar, Youngblut and Brooten (2006), Latino death rituals are heavily influenced by religion, especially Catholicism, which underlines an importance of connection between the living and a deceased person, through prayer. Death is not something the majority of Hispanics fear, because many of them perceive death as a journey. The dying process is closely related to religious practices, such as prayers, hearing the confession of the dying, communion, and a blessing. Ongoing support is essential element of dying and grieving process, and in this particular culture it is unacceptable to let people die alone. The loyalty to a dying person and care that ill person receives during the last journey is very prominent in Latino culture. Death concept in Hispanic culture is closely related to family obligations, which is evident by the care that Hispanic family renders to a dying person during last moments. After death occurs, the family still prefers to stay with the body during burial preparation to pray and to watch over the body. Prior funeral a wake is held, which is a very social event where an extended family has a chance to get together, serve food and drinks, and enjoy each others’ company. Candles and flowers are essential decorating attributes of wakes and funerals. A funeral follows a wake, and during funeral family has a chance to say last goodbyes to their loved one. Emotional expression of grief is important attribute of Latino cultures which is often evident during funeral ceremonies where women cry loudly and use their body language openly. It is not unusual to put personal items into the casket with the person who has passed away for their journey in the afterlife, which also serves as an example of a finial gift from a family (Lobar, Youngblut & Brooten, 2006). Burial follow a funeral, because majority of Hispanics oppose cremation, which is also related to their religious beliefs and importance of placing a body in the ground. Most Hispanics believe that someday the dead will arise and return to life, which significantly influences their burial preferences. It is crucial...

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