Chapter 12 – The Funeral Process
I respect the dead because:
This also shows respect to the people who were close to them
It would violate social expectations if I did not show respect
It is difficult go on with out individual and communal lives until
feelings and issues aroused by the death have been settled amicably
I am troubled by death, so this is a way to to do something positive
The dead have moved into a spirit realm whose god or gods I must
The spirits of the dead might take revenge on me if I did not show
I hope that my physical remains will be treated with respect when the
Remember and Respect
Respect for the dead requires remembering the dead. Sometimes, though society
seems in the grip of collect amnesia.
What do Funerals Mean to Us?
-There is something so fundamental in the human response to death that we need
the physically, the companionship of the funeral
-The funeral is a part of a deeper and more complex process in which we both
separate ourselves from the dead and try to establish a new relationship with the
dead and with each other.
-There is also resistance to the funeral process as it has been variously criticized as
too costly, time-consuming, depressing and artificial.
From Dead to Living Memory: A Process Approach
Common Elements of the Funeral Process
-Instructions for cremation or burial, disposal of personal property, colleagues
might have to prepare for replacing the coworker, debts will be paid, transfers of the
property and rules of inheritance is enforced
Immediate Post death Activities:
The death becomes official when a physician certifies it and immediate action is to
contact next of kin.
Preparations for Burial or Cremation: -Space of time between death and final disposition, to allow time for distant
relatives and friends to gather for the funeral. Disposition of the body may also have
to await financial arrangements
Send for the Medical Examiner:
A medical examiner may order an autopsy when there is the possibility of a danger
to public health: the examination itself can vary. It may be sufficient to look for one
or two telltale sign or dissection and examination of the body may also be
considered necessary along with bacteriological and toxicological laboratory tests.
Survivors’ Responsibilities After a Death
Among some ethnic and religious groups the survivors have specific tasks to
perform. These tasks help survivors express their affection for the deceased and
support each other during the period of acute grief.
Plastination: The Dead as Instructors
Plastination is a process that converts materials into durable objects; water is
removed, tissue dissected, acetone applied to further dehydrate and a silicone bath
is provided under vacuum conditions. This process usually takes around a month.
Up in Flames: The Cremation Alternative:
Despite a number of problems associated with the cremation process, this form of
body disposal has become increasingly utilizes even in strongly traditional societies.
Today in the US cremation is selected by about 1 in 4 people.
The Funeral Service
Two major purposes of the funeral service include final placement of the remains
and society’s public recognition that one if its members has made the transition
from life to death. The underlying purposes remain: to make a final disposition of
the body and to use this occasion as a way of acknowledging that a valued life has
passed among us.
Making Death “Legal”
Establishing the Facts of Death
A death is real but not official until certified, it is the responsibility of the physician
to establish the principal facts of the death and initiate an investigation if questions
arise. Many death certificates also omit other information that would be need to
understand the circumstances if the individual’s death.
What does the Funeral process accomplish?
The funeral process would not have become so important to so many societies
unless it served significant needs and values. Balancing the Claims of the Living and the Dead
Another major function of the funeral process is to achieve a balance between the
competing claims of the living a