Religious Practices Surrounding Death
One of the most beautiful things about America is being in a melting pot full of different people, cultures, religions, ideas and beliefs. Culture and religious affiliation make individuals who they are. They influence decisions made while living and greatly influence decisions surrounding death. Death practices differ in each culture and often religion heavily influences these practices. In 2010, 715,000 people died in hospitals across the United States (Fox, 2013). As nurses, we will undoubtedly encounter death of patients and various religious rituals that will surround death. Examining different religious practices will help when encountering these rituals in the workplace.
Christianity is one of the largest religious groups in the United States that encompasses many different sects. Traditional Christian believes that “death is viewed as the entrance to eternal life and, therefore, is preferable to physical life” (Leming & Dickson, 2011, p. 126). Immorality of the soul, resurrection of the body, and divine judgment of earthly life will result in eternal life and repayments of heaven or the retributions of hell (Leming & Dickson, 2011). Numerous traditional Christians believe that the worst way to die would be suddenly or without warning. This type of death would leave no time to focus on repentance, receive Communion or a final anointing. Many times death may be postponed using technology or medication to increase the time for repentance and final preparations by the dying and family. Because the concern for final repentance is so important to traditional Christians, the amount of sedation chosen by the patient family may also be affected (Engelhardt, 2005). Christian believes allow for embalming, autopsy, and/or cremation of the deceased. It is common and expected for the family of the deceased to disengage from normal social functioning until after the funeral. Christian funeral, or rather worship service, is preformed. The day before the funeral a wake or visitation service is conducted at the funeral home and the church clergy and funeral chapel conduct funeral the next day (Leming & Dickson, 2011). During the funeral service often hymns are sung and scripture passages are read. The focuses of the passages read during the service are to provide consolation to those left on earth and to accentuate the resurrection of the dead (Leming & Dickson, 2011). One of the last steps in the death of a traditional Christian is the committal. This is often the last words read at the funeral or at the graveside service if the body is to be buried. Once the funeral has taken place, the friends and family of the deceased gather and share a meal (Leming & Dickson, 2011).
There are approximately 13 million Jewish people around the world, with about 5 million living in the United States. Judaism is a religion that dates back to nearly 6,000 years old originally stemming from the Middle East (Ross, 1998). “Judaism...