This is what ‘tree burials’ are like in Japan due to lack of space in cemeteries

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The families place the ashes on the ground, and plant an endemic species, forming forests in memory of the deceased.

Funeral rituals have accompanied human beings since they have notion of self. The earliest recorded burial is in Kenya, dating back 78,000 years. It is one of the oldest indications we have of a transcendence-oriented thinking: to the possibility that there is something beyond our earthly understanding.

With the advance of urbanization, and the apparently irreversible trend of population growth on the planet, the spaces to deposit the organic remains of the people has been compromised. We no longer fit. Given the situation, burials in Japan have had to take a new direction, which affects less the environment and appeals to a contemplative sense of eternal rest.

Rest in the shade of a tree

Natasha Mikles has dedicated her life to exploring the alternatives that exist to face death in the world. With the climate emergency in tow, the expert in philosophy from the University of Texas considers that the appropriation of physical land in favor of funeral practices it is simply no longer an option.

In recent years, Mikles has focused his study on Buddhist funeral rituals and narratives about the afterlife. In these Asian traditions, death is not understood as an end point. Rather, it is one more phase of the wheel of karma, and a step forward in the path to enlightenment.

Many times, however, the author acknowledges that “environmental needs collide with religious beliefs“, As detailed in his most recent publication for The Conversation. Rest perpetually under the shade of a tree in a public green area it could be an option, as is being seen in burials in Japan today.

A new way to face death

burials in Japan

It is not the first time that burials in Japan have been practiced in this way. Since the 1970s, there has been a record of Japanese public officials fearing for the lack of funeral space for the population, particularly in urban areas. The problem deepened in the 1990s, when more serious alternatives began to be implemented throughout the island.

It was then that Jumokusō was thought of, which translates into Spanish as “tree burials.” In these, the families place the ashes on the ground, and plant an endemic species on site to mark its final resting space. In this way, instead of building more cemeteries, entire forests would be planted in memory of the deceased.

This principle leans from the Shinto tradition, which finds value in all the vital manifestations of the universe. For this reason, the spaces dedicated to this type of funeral rites are considered sacred: there is an intrinsic spiritual value in life that ends to make way for a new.

We suggest: Natural organic reduction: this is what ecological burials are like that turn your body into human compost

Do burials in Japan of this type interfere with traditional practices?

burials in Japan

Many of the families that have implemented this strategy of sacred greening of public spaces they don’t even practice Shintoism, or are affiliated with a specific religious tradition. However, the interest in continuing this type of practice denotes a environmental responsibility extended throughout the population.

Despite this, these burials in Japan also obey an ancient Buddhist principle. Like the plants are considered sentient beings, it is a way to continue the reincarnation cycle for the soul that departed. Seeds embody a living component of this path, and therefore, they must protect themselves with the same honor.

The practice has been so well received that various temples and public cemeteries have adopted it as part of their agenda today. The model has been so successful that some Religious spaces promote it as part of the spiritual life of people. Although they do not necessarily align with the ancient practices originally proposed by Buddhism, they do obey the precept of respect for existing forms of life, which sets the standard for all branches of this spiritual tradition.

Complete Article HERE!

Dr. Ruth talked about sex in the 1980s. Now it’s time to talk about death

‘The pandemic has waved death in our face. Mortality is now at the forefront’

Karen Hendrickson and Jo-Anne Haun founded the Death Doula Network of BC, an online community devoted to the death positive movement operating out of their homes in B.C in April, 2020. They started the network to help people dealing with grief during the pandemic

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Only Karen Hendrickson and Jo-Anne Haun, co-founders of Death Doula Network of BC (DDNBC), can approach the topic of death with the perfect balance of positivity, passion, and of course, dark humour.

“Back in the 1980s, Dr. Ruth talked about sex,” Haun said in a Zoom interview from B.C. “She brought education and humour to it and now our children are learning about it in schools. That’s what we would like to do with death.”

Commonly associated with births, doulas offer physical and emotional support. They often handle administration and act as a go-between for patients and medical staff to minimize stress for patients and their families.

But doulas also play a role in end of life. “Death doulas” not only fill the gaps between patients and the health-care system, but also bridge the gap between the health-care and funeral industry. Their work has become particularly important during the COVID-19 pandemic, which has isolated dying patients, interrupted death rituals and placed extra stress on families.

Hendrickson and Haun, who have been friends for 20 years, became death doulas together back in 2018. They founded the virtual group to start a discussion around death and dying for anyone interested in the death-positive movement.

DDNBC has grown quickly and continuously since their first virtual meeting in April 2020. The network now has close to 140 members throughout Canada and around the world.

Karen Hendrickson and Jo-Anne live four hours apart and saw the opportunity to work together to create the virtual network DDNBC, during the pandemic, April 2020.

Gaps in the health-care system

Hendrickson and Haun have been part of the fight to include doulas within the health-care system to help fill some of the gaps between the system as its patients.

“You have likely heard of the rock metaphor before. Basically, The big rocks are the diagnoses. The medium rocks are your support people. The small rocks are your treatments. The sand in between the rocks is the doula,” Hendrickson said.

Things like confusing paperwork, new medical teams, and unfamiliar systems have a devastating emotional impact on patients and their families.

Hendrickson described an instance where a young patient with terminal cancer kept having to renew his burial permit but the medical staff continued to insist that it wasn’t important. That form is required by funeral services to take the person’s body from their home. Without an up-to-date form, the funeral service would refuse to take the body and the family would have to call the police.

“They would arrive with their sirens on and everything, and be forced to treat it like a crime scene because that’s their mandate,” Hendrickson said. “Imagine grieving families having to witness that.”

Ingrid Ollquist, based in Los Angeles, started as a birth doula in 2017, mainly supporting people through abortions and miscarriages. She decided to become a pre-planning and post-death doula after receiving emotional support from a doula mentorship program herself.

After a 10-year battle, Ollquist lost her mother to multiple sclerosis (MS). During this process, she was in and out of hospitals dealing with lots of administration with little support. As a death doula, she hopes to prevent others from experiencing this stress and isolation.

“It brought distance between my mom and I,” Ollquist said. “It was so frustrating to just live in logistical spaces with a person that you love that you can see dying in front of you.”

Ollquist is now the founder of the free grief support group Nurture Ing after being mentored by Jill Schock, the founder of Death Doula LA (DDLA).

COVID-19 has changed how we die

COVID-19 has made the gaps between health-care and funeral industries larger. Government regulations restrict patients from having more than one support person when in a hospital.

For death doulas, these restrictions mean patients die without their loved ones by their side. Doulas and family members must connect with the dying patient virtually.

“A COVID death is horrific. It’s the worst. You are losing more than just life, but all end-of-life rituals,” Ollquist said.

Many memorial and funeral events have been cancelled, and burial and cremation services have been substantially delayed.

Olliquist hasn’t personally dealt with more clients but she has played a larger role in supporting other doulas. She says that many doulas are now experiencing death anxiety after witnessing numerous horrific deaths all over the world. People of all different ages are dying without family and without rituals.

DDNBC and Ollquist suspect that more people are going to be thinking about (and planning for) their deaths after the pandemic.

“The pandemic has waved death in our face. Mortality is now at the forefront,” Haun said.

Complete Article HERE!

What to Expect When Death Comes

In the wake of Covid-19, we are all grieving. How can we come to terms with death — and what does it teach us about living?

By Brandy L Schillace

In 2015, I published a book. It began like this:

“A wake,” my mother said. “To sit with the dead.”

We were on our way to West Virginia, to an unremarkable two-story colonial where my grandfather’s remains had been washed and laid out for viewing. It had been raining all night, but apparently no one in this homey funeral parlor had been sleeping. They’d been sitting up with the body. Sitting up — with the body — all night.

There are no good adjectives to describe my feelings about this. I was seventeen and grieving, but I wasn’t horrified. Shocked, yes, but the idea was strangely enticing, even fascinating. Really? We do that? This wasn’t my first family death, after all, but it was the first time I’d encountered the intimacy of this ritual.

It was also the first time I’d considered the buzzing activity that surrounds the newly dead. I asked myself what seemed like suddenly obvious questions — Why wash a body before putting it in the dirt? Why sit awake with someone now permanently asleep? Even the practice of embalming the body (which prevents decay) before interring it in the ground (where it is supposed to decay) struck me as a very strange kind of ritual. With only a minor leap of morbid imagination, care of the newly dead began to resemble care of the newly born. But it also brings us face to face with our own mortality.

When we witness death, we must grapple with its finality, but also with the knowledge that one day we, too, must die. Where once this was understood as the natural order of things, we now find ourselves conflicted and less willing to see death as “natural.” If anything, death breaks into our lives as an unexpected surprise.

We are not used to death and dying in the West, and most particularly not in the modern United States. The Victorians (in the U.S. and U.K.) had incredibly complex mourning rituals, including mourning jewelry, photographs of the recently dead (momento mori photography), and the public wearing of mourning clothing.

Like birth, death was a social event that drew communities together. In a large city, scarcely a day would go by without some visible sign of bereavement. Compare this with our modern standards, where illness and death are either hidden away in hospitals or sensationalized through popular culture, and where prolonged grief is likely to be medicated as abnormal, rather than openly acknowledged as an inevitable part of life.

Elisabeth Kübler-Ross, a Swiss American psychiatrist, developed her theory of the five stages of grief in 1969 as a response to a lack of information on death and dying in the curriculum of medical schools — but even these hardly cover the enormous range of emotions that accompany death, and they certainly weren’t a plan for how better to go about the process of grieving. Later attempts at death positive education have been on the rise, but can be blind to the way privilege often determines “positivity” about death.

Then, in 2020, the pandemic descended upon us with death tolls on a global scale. We crashed into a set of experiences most were ill-prepared to deal with — and on top of this, the nature of the virus stole away even our usual means of communal grieving. Covid-19 has precipitated three separate types of loss; first, the loss of loved ones, of friends, of connections we always assumed would be there. Second, the loss of personal contact so much a part of grieving. And third, and perhaps most jarring: the loss of an illusion. We’ve been stripped of the comfortable idea that we could plan for tomorrow, or that we will all die of comfortable old age.

Death has come. And we were not expecting it.

Looking out at the expanse of still-spiking cases in the U.K. and parts of the U.S., overwhelmed crematoriums in India, and the struggle to get higher percentages vaccinated, it’s clear that the first crisis isn’t necessarily over. But a second epidemic is coming: a shadow epidemic of psychological grief as we try to fit puzzle pieces of broken yesterdays to almost-tomorrows. We need help. So: what next?

I think it’s time for a journey. In Death’s Summer Coat, I worked backward through history, and sideways into other cultural contexts, to see how we got to “now.” Along the way, I learned how we might find paths to something better. I’ve decided to revisit those paths from a post-outbreak perspective, in hopes it might shed light on the road ahead. I hope you will join me. Sharing our stories provides hope and community so that none of us face death alone in the silent dark.

If you would like to hear a bit more from me, I gave a brief chat on the topic for the Museum of Contemporary Art, Cleveland. Until next time, go gently with yourselves.

Complete Article HERE!

What matters in the end?

Couple chronicles life’s final chapter in new book

Photo of Irvin and Marilyn Yalom in the entry hall of their Palo Alto home.

Authors Irvin and Marilyn Yalom probe questions around love, loss

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Is it possible to plan a “good death?” Can one gracefully leave this world to the next generation? Can one live meaningfully until the very end?

Prompted by a serious medical diagnosis, longtime Palo Alto residents Irvin and Marilyn Yalom probe these questions in “A Matter of Death and Life,” which the duo wrote just before Marilyn died by medically assisted suicide in 2019.

Married 65 years, both Yaloms already were widely published authors — translated into many languages — when they began writing their book in spring 2019 after Marilyn was diagnosed with multiple myeloma, a cancer of the plasma cells.

Irvin, a psychiatrist and leader in the field of existential psychotherapy, had some 20 fiction and nonfiction titles to his name. Marilyn, a cultural historian, French professor and early director of Stanford’s Center for Research on Women, had published at least 10 books.

With her prognosis bleak, Marilyn persuaded her husband that they should document, in alternating chapters, the experience of her illness and likely demise from the disease.

“We now live each day with the knowledge that our time together is limited and exceedingly precious,” the two, both in their late 80s, write in the preface. “This book is meant, first and foremost, to help us navigate the end of life.”

As scholars, both Yaloms are steeped in the great philosophers’ contemplations on exemplary life and death, and have wrestled in their own work with themes of mortality.

In “American Resting Place,” co-authored with their son, the photographer Reid Yalom, Marilyn documented how 400 years of gravestones, graveyards and burial practices reflect changing American ideas about death, class, gender and immigration.

As a psychotherapist, Irv had counseled countless patients, including many with terminal illnesses, about facing death, and written extensively about their — and his own — death anxieties.

“Of all the ideas I’ve employed to comfort patients dreading death, none has been more powerful than the idea of living a regret-free life,” Irv recalls in the book.

Sitting together in their yard, admiring the trees, “Marilyn squeezes my hand and says, ‘Irv, there’s nothing I would change,'” he writes. With four children, eight grandchildren and extensive world travels in addition to their professional accomplishments, both Yaloms feel they’ve seized their days to the fullest.

Even as death approaches, the pair celebrate “magic moments,” such as the evening they abandon television and Marilyn pulls “Martin Chuzzlewit” down from the bookshelf and begins reading aloud. “I purr in ecstasy, listening to each word,” Irv writes. “This is sheer heaven: What a blessing to have a wife who delights in reading Dickens’s prose out loud.” He recalls the day — more than 70 years before — when the two had first bonded over their mutual love of books as classmates at Roosevelt High School in Washington, D.C.

When chemotherapy fails and Marilyn is placed on immunoglobulin therapy, she begins inquiring about medically assisted suicide — legal in California since 2016 — in the event the new treatment does not work.

Irv is horrified, but Marilyn is at peace. Though sad to leave the people she loves, “The idea of death does not frighten me,” she writes. “I can accept the idea that I shall no longer exist. … After 10 months of feeling awful most of the time, it’s a relief to know that my misery will come to an end.”

After some weeks the couple is told the immunoglobulin therapy, too, has failed.

Marilyn accepts various tributes and goes about saying her goodbye, and giving away her treasured books to a large network of friends and colleagues. “It’s weird to realize that if I want to do anything, I’ll have to do it quickly,” she writes.

Ultimately, about a week before Thanksgiving 2019, she chooses to end her life, ingesting lethal medication in the presence of Irv, their four children, a physician and a nurse. (She was among the 405 people to use California’s End of Life Options Act in 2019, according to the annual tally from the state health department.)

Shortly before, Marilyn had reviewed the writings of Greek and Roman philosophers on how to live and die well. “For all the philosophical treatises and all the assurances of the medical profession,” she writes, “there is no cure for the simple fact that we must leave each other.”

The final chapters are written by Irv, recounting the agony of grief and his halting attempts to resume some kind of normal life — including venturing out to a Barron Park Senior Lunch at the Corner Bakery.

After more than 70 years with Marilyn beside him, he struggles with the idea that “something can have value, interest and importance even if I am the only one to experience it, even if there’s no Marilyn to share it with.

“It’s as if Marilyn’s knowing about a happening is necessary to make it truly real,” he writes.

He rails at the irrationality of this. “I’ve been a full-time student, observer and healer of the mind for over 60 years, and it is difficult to tolerate my own mind being so irrational,” he writes.

Reached at his home in late May, two months after the book’s publication, Yalom said he’s been busy with the “strong feedback,” including virtual book talks with large audiences all over the world. The book is licensed for publication in 25 countries, some already in print and others likely between now and the end of next year, according to literary agent Sandra Dijkstra.

Yalom, who turns 90 this month, continues to work on his next book and also to do single-hour therapy consultations.

“I’m growing old now and my memory’s beginning to disappear,” he said. “I’m not seeing ongoing patients anymore but I think I’m able to do a lot for some people just in the single hour.”

His new book is intended as a training manual for young therapists. “I’m always writing, and as long as I’m writing I feel very well,” he said.

He also takes walks daily to a nearby park, where he’s had a bench installed in memory of Marilyn. Yalom said he enjoys sitting on the bench, taking in the surroundings and thinking of her.

Complete Article HERE!

Coping with death through letters to the dead

The Magenta Horse Last Words altar at Siletz Bay Park awaits letters and offerings from visitors to help them cope with losing a loved one.

By Mathew Brock

Some people may regret not being able to say something to a loved one before they passed, but for the next month, residents and visitors to Lincoln City will have the chance to put those words into one final letter, even if it’s only symbolically.

The Golden Chachkie Last Words altar at sits slightly off the beaten path at Nesika Park.

At parks around Lincoln City, several altars appeared last month as part of the Last Word’s Mailbox Altars Public Art Installation, which gives people who have experienced the death of a loved one a place to grieve and cope by writing them letters.

The project serves another purpose however, as the letters left at the alters will be taken and turned into songs that will be performed at a virtual concert in August and sold as an album to help raise money in support of houseless veterans facing terminal illness through the Do Good Multnomah nonprofit group.

“These art installations are part of an interdisciplinary project that’s really a fundraiser,” said Crystal Akins, founder of Activate Arts and the artist responsible for the project. “I knew I could have done a regular fundraiser, like an event where you get wine and do the whole thing, but instead I wanted to do something that would bring the community together around death using their own grief and loss to transform that into a way to support a person in dying a good death.”

The project has been years in the making and was inspired by Akins’ work as a death doula, someone who helps the dying and their friends and family cope with death.

“It’s a long-term project, and I’ve been working on it for about five years so far,” Akins said. “I’ve been researching houseless death and am a death doula. I’ve been working with a lot of people who live in poverty and seeing how they die. I decided now it’s time to help build a community around death and to help veterans in poverty get access to a good death.”

Akins said the project was also inspired by the Telephone in the Wind art project, which first started in Japan with similar installations popping up in the U.S. and other countries since it debuted in 2011. At these installations, visitors can use a secluded phone booth to symbolically have one final conversation with a deceased loved one as a way to help cope with the loss.

“I saw that and the ways people were connecting with it and wanted to bring something similar here to try that would help bring community together,” Akins said. “Some of the letters I’ve been getting so far have taken the time to thank me for providing this space, and that was the purpose of this, to provide a space for people to experience grief and loss, which is especially important during this pandemic with people facing loss every day.”

The alters themselves were made by Akins using a “found art” art style, which takes discarded and recycled items and repurposes them as a medium for artwork. They’re currently located at Josephine Young Memorial Park, Siletz Bay Park and Nesika Park in Lincoln City until July 1, when Akins will collect and store them.

Those wishing to participate in the project can visit any of the altars and leave a letter, and if they like, a small offering as well, such as a flower, photo or rock. Those writing letters are asked to keep their own privacy in mind and to address letters without specific names, such as “Dear Dad,” “Dear Grandmother,” “Dear sister,” or “Dear Pet Companion.”

Complete Article HERE!

You can’t choose an afterlife.

But you can choose what happens to your body after your life.

Gravestones at Green-Wood Cemetery in Brooklyn, N.Y., on Jan. 2.

There are many options for what happens to your body after your death. But there’s only one real way to give it a long afterlife.

By Adam Larson

Gardeners can be very picky about the kind of compost they use, but this year Washington-based business Recompose has begun making it from a new ingredient: human remains. Intended as an eco-friendly funeral alternative, interested parties should perhaps be forewarned: It takes a couple of months to go from corpse to compost.

But (legally) composting yourself or a recently departed loved one is by no means the only unusual alternative to traditional burial or cremation.

You — or someone’s remains for which you are legally responsible — can now be buried in a suit made of cotton and mushroom spores, intended to make a person’s body into fungus food. (The process also claims to clean heavy metals from the deceased’s remains before they seep into the soil.)

If one is a fan of the ocean, there are companies that will take cremated remains and incorporate them into artificial reefs to act as a home for coral and fish.

The deeper question you might want to ask may be why we care what happens to our dead bodies at all.

If you’d prefer your earthly remains to stay closer to your loved ones (or they would prefer to keep your remains close), your post-cremation ashes can be made into a diamond and worn as jewelry or transformed into a glass paperweight for a bizarre cubicle talking piece.

Conversely, if you’d rather get away from Earth altogether, you could have your ashes shot into space, where they would then orbit the Earth before disintegrating upon future re-entry. If you’d like to really get away, your ashes could be shot out of orbit and into deep space. That is what was done with the remains of Clyde Tombaugh, who discovered Pluto; his remains came within 8,000 miles of the dwarf planet and are currently over 4 billion miles from Earth.

After hearing the many options of what to do with your body after you’re done using it, you might have some questions. But the deeper question you might want to ask may be why we care what happens to our dead bodies at all.

Part of the issue is that many religions believe what happens to our remains is important. Hindus cremate their dead because they believe their souls will only leave their bodies if forced to leave. Zoroastrians believe that dead bodies are impure and must be disposed of properly. Ancient Egyptians believed their bodies needed to be preserved because they were the vessels that contained their spirits.

If you actually want to make a difference after you’re gone, there are better choices.

But even people who don’t hold beliefs about the importance of the physical body in the afterlife still follow funeral customs. Around the world, most people (even those without a belief in an afterlife) would be weirded out by the prospect of the body of a loved one (or their own body) being unceremoniously tossed into a landfill, which is strange when you think about it. After all, it’s not as if dead people need their bodies for anything: They’re dead.

Clearly, another part of the human adherence to funeral rituals across time and cultures has to do with a desire to be remembered after we are gone and the idea that we now express as some version of “funerals are for the living.” A gravesite can help keep the memory of the deceased alive for their remaining loved ones, give mourners a specific place to commemorate the dead and make them feel closer to the deceased. But if you really think about it absent our cultural norms, even this is a bit odd, because you aren’t actually closer to the person who died at a gravesite.

You’re just closer to their corpse or ashes, and regardless of your personal belief system, you probably actually consider the intangibles of a person — whether you want to call that their heart or their soul or their mind — the essence of what makes them who they are, rather than their physical body.

Yet while we know that, we still have difficulty separating the idea of the mind from the body. Perhaps that’s because we can’t communicate with other humans without interacting with a physical body to some degree. Disrespecting a person’s remains, no matter how little they “are” the person anymore, still feels like disrespecting the person.

Part of the human adherence to funeral rituals across time and cultures has to do with a desire to be remembered after we are gone

So why, then, do some people want their bodies to become compost, coral reefs or mushroom food? A major motivator seems to be concern for the environment. The embalming fluid used to keep remains presentable for typical American funerals is good at preserving dead things but can also make other things die (if, for instance, it’s ingested by underground organisms — though U.S. regulations mandate that caskets be sealed to avoid things inside from leaking outside).

And while cemeteries only cover a tiny fraction of the Earth’s surface, they are often located in cities, where land can be in short supply, and severe water events like floods can cause serious issues for the living, who generally prefer that caskets (and the bodies inside them) stay buried.

Plus, traditional funerals and burials can be prohibitively expensive. Add to that a general decline in people practicing organized religion, and it means that more people in the United States are not restricted by the rules and regulations of faith traditions that might prohibit certain post-death practices.

Cremation, then, is often seen as a more eco-friendly (and much less expensive) alternative to burial, but burning the deceased’s remains releases greenhouse gases and mercury into the atmosphere — although a relatively new form of cremation produces fewer emissions and uses less energy.

After hearing the many options of what to do with your body after you’re done using it, you might have some questions.

So becoming compost — or something similar — seemingly lets your body do some good after you’re gone. The opportunity to help others is the ethos behind the similar, but much older, practice of Tibetan sky burials (though, in a sky burial your body provides sustenance for vultures instead of hydrangeas).

But if you actually want to make a difference after you’re gone, there are better choices than turning your body into compost or vulture food. You can make compost out of human remains or the leftovers you forgot at the back of the refrigerator, but only one of those can save lives when used in a different way.

First and foremost, you can register as an organ donor. You won’t need your kidneys after you shuffle off this mortal coil, but there are more than 80,000 Americans who could use them right now and a single organ donor could potentially save eight lives.

While organ donation generally still leaves people with the option for burial, cremation or composting, there’s another option: donating your remains entirely to science. Donated bodies are used to train the next generation of doctors in medical schools, provide insight into human variation and even reveal how our bodies naturally decay — to help forensic anthropologists identify murder victims and catch their killers. Like organ donation, donating a body to science can save lives.

You might not get the chance to save the lives of others while you’re alive. But you do have the chance to make a simple decision while you’re still with us that can help others live longer after you’re gone.

Complete Article HERE!

What Happens at a Christian Burial?

If you aren’t someone who goes to church regularly, then you might be intimidated by the idea of going to a Christian burial. However, you shouldn’t be worried. While Christian burials certainly have their rituals and traditions, most burials are accessible to secular individuals.

Every religion has its versions of a burial service. For example, a burial at a Catholic church is going to focus less on the deceased person and more on religious readings. This means that there won’t be any eulogies by friends or family.

However, you shouldn’t let that put you off Christian burials entirely.

Many Christian funerals, such as Protestant ones, are more low-key and modest. They tend to focus more on the person who is being mourned.

So if you are interested in learning about Christian burials, then keep on reading and we will take you through everything you will want to know.

What Happens During a ChristianBurial Service

A Christian burial will usually take place about one week after the death takes place. A lot of Christian families will choose to hold a wake before the actual funeral.

Christian burials all have some religious aspects, regardless of the denomination that the person followed. These rituals tend to be laid out in programs that are handed out at the beginning of the service.

If you do not attend church regularly and you are not sure what you should be doing, then just follow along with what everyone else does.

The Wake Before the Service

Wakes tend to be held a few days ahead of a funeral. However, there are some instances where they take place on the same day.

In the case of wakes that take place on the same day, the wake will usually occur in the same church as the funeral.

A lot of wakes tend to happen at a funeral home.
Christian beliefs about burial traditions and death allow for embalming. So the casket might be open at a wake. This will depend on a lot of different factors, including the wishes of the deceased and the person’s family.

If you have never been to an open viewing before, then you might be a little unsettled by the experience. It can be hard to see the person you knew and is no longer alive.

You can still attend the wake even if you do not want to go up to the casket to say goodbye or to get a better look. Instead, you can simply focus on interacting with fellow mourners in the spirit of the event.

Typical Service Program

Mourners will take seats at the burial site or in the church. After everyone has settled down, a pallbearer will bring the coffin to the gravesite.

If the deceased was cremated, then someone will come with an urn of ashes.

After this happens, a lot of Christian services will include a hymn in their program. Someone who was closed to the deceased will then read a message of hope.

This could be a piece of secular text or a passage from the bible. Whatever the text is, it is meant to honor the deceased and give hope to the people who survived them. The minister might also read a message of hope.

After, there will be a section for remembering and reflecting. The church might choose to play music.

Families will sometimes ask people to lay a flower or other item on the casket.

These kinds of burial rituals are meant to create a sense of connection to the deceased. After this reflection, another hymn is going to play to encourage everyone to go back to their seats.

The ceremony will end with everyone saying goodbye. The minister might also ask you to bow your heads while another piece of music plays. This tends to be the most emotional segment of the event.

Christian Burials and Post-Funeral Practices

Every religion has traditions around burials and cremations. Christian denominations aren’t any different. Christian beliefs about death will inform the burial rituals and other practices.

Cremation and Burial Customs

In a Christian burial, the body of the deceased person is usually interred in a ground that’s consecrated. Cremation used to be forbidden to Christians because it was believed that it interfered with resurrection.

However, those rules have relaxed over time. For Catholic people, cremated remains are still buried. Other Christian denominations will allow for ashes not to be interred. However, some have rules against scattering ashes.

However, if you’re wondering what does the bible say about cremation, you might be surprised to learn that it doesn’t say a whole lot.

Attire

The proper funeral attire in the United States is all black. You should dress formally with men wearing dark suits and women wearing conservative dresses. Funerals in other cultures may dress differently.

The Importance of Knowing What Happens at a Christian Burial

Hopefully, after reading the above article, you now have a better understanding of what happens at a Christian burial. As we can see, while a lot might take place at a Christian burial, you really only have to participate as much as you feel comfortable with.

In the end, it is simply about respecting the traditions and mourning the deceased. If you do that, then you shouldn’t have any issues.

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