Death Customs

RIP

Throughout human existence has been the need to deal with the death of friends and loved ones. Different cultures have practiced many different types of death customs and burials. Even within the same country or culture there can be many varied rituals. Death customs are influence by religion, spiritual beliefs, lack of spiritual beliefs, the wishes of the deceased (if left in a will or preplanned funeral arrangement), cultural traditions, family values, acceptable social practices and so much more. There is no way I could adequately cover this topic in one blog post so I will simply point Dewey Hop readers to the latest books I’ve encountered on my read through the Fulton County Public Library.

The first book I encountered on this topic is:

What a Way to Go

Since I can’t write a better summary, I’ve borrowed some summaries:

  • Baker & Taylor
    An entertaining, yet respectful, documentary of the most extraordinary lives and amazing funerals of two dozen twentieth-century icons from politics, art, and pop culture, including Jim Henson, Babe Ruth, Elvis Presley, Eva Peron, and the Ayatollah Khomeini, is filled with stunning photographs and riveting information. Original.
  • Grand Central Pub
    A&E Biography meets Tales from the Crypt in this fun but respectful survey of the amazing lives and astonishing funerals of two dozen twentieth-century icons from politics, art, and pop culture. In more than 50 rare photographs and thoroughly researched profiles, What a Way to Go showcases all the colorful details of each subject’s death, funeral service, and burial. From Muppet creator Jim Henson’s upbeat service, attended by Big Bird, to Babe Ruth lying in state at Yankee Stadium as vendors sold hot dogs to waiting mourners–it’s all here, the moving and the macabre. JFK, Notorious B.I.G., Elvis Presley, Chairman Mao, Eva Peron, the Ayatollah Khomeini, and many more find fitting tribute in this compulsively readable, visually lavish, richly entertaining celebration of our enduring fascination with the famous and the strange pageantry of their demise.

And I’ve also done the same thing for this book:

Reimagining Death

“For all those seeking to reclaim their innate and legal right to care for their own dead, create home funeral vigils, and choose greener after-death care options that are less toxic and more sustainable for the earth More natural after-death care options are transforming the paradigm of the existing funeral industry, helping families and communities recover their instinctive capacity to care for a loved one after death and do so in creative, nourishing, and healing ways. In reclaiming these practices and creating new, innovative options, we are greening the gateway of death and returning home to ourselves, our bodies, and the earth. Lucinda Herring reminds us of the sacredness of death itself; her compelling stories, poetry, and guidance come from years of experience as a home funeral/green burial consultant and licensed funeral director dedicated to more natural and healing death practices. In Reimagining Death she shares with readers her experience caring for her own mother after death. Through storytelling and resources Herring also reveals to families the gifts of partnering with nature, home funeral vigils, sacred care at death, conscious dying (through the story of a Death with Dignity with accompanying photos of one man’s planned death and after-death care), bringing laughter and a greater lightness of being to death, natural burials, and emerging eco-conscious dispositions. A valuable resource in planning for all deaths in all circumstances (with a chapter on what to do when a death occurs outside of the home), this book also guides readers on how to create an advance after-death care directive”– Provided by publisher.
“”For all those seeking to reclaim their innate and legal right to care for their own dead, create home funeral vigils, and choose greener after-death care options that are less toxic and more sustainable for the earth”–Provided by publisher”– Provided by publisher
Dealing with the death of a loved one is a very personal experience and is unique to every individual and family.  If you dealt with a funeral, celebration of life, memorial and would like to share your experience please feel free to do so in the comments below.
Have you ever considered an alternative to the customary funeral arrangements for yourself or a loved one? Have you ever been to an after death service that was unique in some way?
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5 thoughts on “Death Customs

  1. Wow – that book “What a Way to Go” looks very interesting! I might not be up to it right now being a recent widow, but it would be interested to check out in the future. In answer to the question you posed: “Have you ever considered an alternative to the customary funeral arrangements for yourself or a loved one?” I saw something on a series on amazon prime in which a woman does “organic/natural death services”. She does not embalm but just uses a shroud to let the body decompose naturally into the earth.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes the organic / natural deaths are discussed (with photos of bodies in the shrouds) are included in the book.

      I do understand about not being ready for this type of reading due to your recent loss. I’m still thinking about you and praying for you.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. This subject can be vary touchy, but those 2 books sound great. At my second husband’s memorial service, (he was cremated), his son played a drum solo in his honor. Bobby was a drummer. And I sang Amazing Grace a capella. His favorite song. Then we let mourners speak. It was wonderful. And of course, a dinner after. When I received his ashes, I kept them in the closet for about 5 months. Everyone was creeped out. But I was used to sleeping in the same room as him! Then I finally spread his ashes under the huge oak tree outside our bedroom window.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, this topic can be touchy and very personal. That is one of the reasons I kept this particular post pretty short.

      It sounds like your second husband’s memorial service was very nice-as far as memorial services go.

      Liked by 1 person

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