Death and Burial

The purpose of this paper is to analyze the orientations of death which people have learned from their culture and to explain different cultures” varying views on death and burials.

I. Cultural evaluation of death.

A. Orientations.

B. Varying views.

II. Cultural examples.

A. Egyptians.

B. Aryans.

C. Burial Masks.

III. Reasons for death views.

A. Changes.

B. The United States.

C. Tie together.

Sociological Thanatology.

“It is when one first sees the horizon as an end that one first begins to see. Ends are the hardest things in the world to see- precisely because they are”t things, they are the ends of things. Death is the perspective of every great picture and the underbeat of every measurable poem.”.

Archibald MacLeish.
The orientations people possess regarding death are radically different and easily influenced by language, art, religion, funeral rituals, and social structure of the culture.
There are five types of death that cultures can believe in.
Tame death is a process familiar and near.
In Death to Self, the true essence of oneself was assumed to be revealed. It is a renewed appreciation of life and it”s possibilities.
Remote and Imminent Death is viewed as a rupture or breaks in life rather than a continuum.
Death of the Other is when you are more worried about a loved one”s death than your own.
Invisible Death means that individual lives and deaths are inconsequential.
(The Hour of our Death).
Cultures can be death accepting, death-denying, or death-defying. In the west strategies for salvation have included strict discipline for afterlife survival. In the east, strategies are more contemplative and mystical. Death can be considered the end of existence or a change into another state of being.
(The Hour of our Death).
“To mix forever with the elements.
To be a brother to the insensible rock.
The oak shall send his roots abroad.
And pierce thy mold.”
-Thanatopsis by William Cullen Bryant.
If you were to parachute down into some exotic culture, how would you classify the meaning it had constructed against death? There are lists to help classify cultural views towards death.

This is a general list:
1. Nature of their beliefs on the meaning of life, death, and after death.
2. Strategies for body disposal;
3. The perceived role of the dead in affairs of the living.
4. The physical/symbolic boundaries between worlds of dead and living.
5. Whether the dying process is a public or private event.
6. The degree of social status attached to those dying, dead, or bereaved.
7. Views toward and rates of suicide, murder, and abortion.
8. Social goal of death prevention and avoidance.
9. The death socialization of children and their involvement in the funeral ritual.
10. The forbidden status of the topic of dying and death in everyday talk.

Throughout the history of mankind, death has been an enduring theme of myth and religion, science, and magic, curiosity, and fear.

“Let’s talk of graves, of worms, of epitaphs.”.


There are two aspects of survival after death: the journey of the spirit and continued existence in another sphere of living, and the relations of the dead with the living. When a culture believes in the first, then the cult tends to exclude any emphasis on the second. Take for example two opposite-believing cultures, the Egyptians, and the Aryans. Egyptians believe strongly in the soul returning to the body after death. Aryans believe that the person”s soul leaves the body and that the body is then unsanitary and should be disposed of.

Egyptians believed that a person”s soul had many parts. One of these parts was called the Ka. The ka was a person”s double, sort of an invisible twin, which supposedly lived in the body until death. It was necessary to prevent the dead body from decaying because the ka still needed it. (Learn about Egypt with Neferkiki).

Sometimes a statue that resembled the deceased would be placed in the tomb with the mummy. These ka statues were a back up to make sure the ka had a body to belong to, just in case something should happen to the mummy.

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