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Final Rites of Passage

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Final Rites of Passage
Sharon Teets
Instructor Bojakowski
March 15, 2015

The different phases of human development and the events to mark those phases are referred to as rites of passage. There are many rites of passage during a human life leading up to the final rite of passage, which is death. Funeral and death rites are used to mark the passing of a loved one and to help the living cope with and understand the departure of that loved one. These rituals are very different from one culture and society to the next. In the United States, funerals and death rites are usually one day affairs with no further rites practiced. In Japan, funeral rites are much more ritualized and not only deal with death, they also deal with life after death. The lack of funeral and death rites in contemporary Western society can lead to disenfranchised grief as they may be insufficient in helping people cope with the loss of a loved one. Japanese culture marks aging with milestone birthdays that are celebrated to map the progression of aging to the final destination of death. In this paper I will be examining funeral and death rites and if they adequately help with the grieving process and the acceptance of death. I will be examining the funeral and death rites in the United States from an etic perspective and contrasting this examination with an emic perspective of the same rituals as they are practiced in Japan, to show that my cultures rituals are lacking in the tools to deal with grief and acceptance of death. I will be examining funeral and death rites in my own culture from an etic perspective. In order to do this I will have to step outside my culture and my belief system. According to Crapo (2013), "An etic description or analysis…..creates a model of a culture by using cross-culturally valid categories, which anthropologists have found to be generally...

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