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Searching for new rituals for death and dying

Keith Watkins Historian
March 4, 2012

Clergy Debate Funeral Rituals

Until recent times, funeral directors and clergy provided professional services for most people at the time of death. The proper care of “the remains,” was the necessary focus of their work, with the funeral director responsible for the physical aspects of the process and the pastor focused on the rites of transition—for the deceased into the “for ever after” and for the survivors into the next phase of their lives right here and now.

The work of these two sets of community servants came together in the funeral services that were normal practice even for people who had not been participants in religious communities.

During the past quarter of a century, however, attitudes and practices related to death and dying have changed dramatically. One result is that clergy are no longer the necessary provider of mandatory rites at the time of death. Even long-time members of their congregations may turn to other ritual sources when loved ones die.

Read the full article at Keith Watkins Historian

Thanks to the FuneralWords Blog for alerting us to this article.

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One Comment


Does the funeral director have the right to forbid you to see the deceased in the casket right before burial? I have been told I cannot view my deceased because he could be embalmed because he was found too many days after his death. I found him dead and I want to be sure he is in that coffin. Where do I stand legally? Thank you.

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