Understanding Death Rituals

by Karen Roberson, PhD, Turenza Smith, PhD, and Wanda Davidson, PhD

Abstract: Rituals have played a significant role in helping individuals cope with and celebrate the death or impending death of a love one. In many cultures, the overall purpose of the ritual is to support those who remain. Key elements including symbols, social gatherings, and rituals are shared by many cultures. Rituals are often used when preparing for the death of a loved one. Formal ceremonies usually involve people, food, and prayer celebrating the life and death of the person. How death is viewed and celebrated will vary among religions and cultures.

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