5 Ways People Celebrate Death Around the World

5 Ways People Celebrate Death Around the World

Losing a loved one is one of life’s hardest challenges, affecting everyone around the world. Here’s how they deal.

Here in the west, most of us think of death as a time of sadness. It’s a time of reflection, sometimes of remorse and an emotionally trying experience that often changes us.

But the end of someone’s life is celebrated in different ways around the world. Some see it as an end but also a new beginning.

Here are 5 celebrations of death from around the world.

1) Indonesia


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The Torajan people of the Indonesian island Sulawesi don’t bury their dead quickly. Instead, they spend time gathering family and relations together, while they continue to feed and care for the deceased as if they were still alive. Death is a transition time and changing daily life slowly allows those still living to adjust to the new reality.

The body of the deceased is treated with formaldehyde, and family members feed and care for the person while their corpse mummifies in the family home. Eventually, once everyone is gathered, a big party takes place and the deceased is carried to their grave.

2) Tibet


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The traditions surrounding death in Tibet may sound a bit gruesome. Taken as a part of an entire belief system though, they may make a lot of sense.

When a Tibetan person dies, the mountainous landscape of the area makes it hard for a body to be buried under ground. Add to that the fact that there isn’t a lot of wood around, and cremation also gets ruled out.

The vultures, however, are plentiful. Tibetan traditions of death involve the living offering up the dead to the birds. Since Tibetans are Buddhist and believe in reincarnation, the faster a corpse is consumed by the vultures and thus returned to the energy flow of nature, the better the future looks for the deceased.

 3) Mexico


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We all know of Day of the Dead (Dia de los muertos) as being a Mexican day of celebration that honors the dead, but funeral rites are a bit different.

Once a person dies in Mexico, the body is returned to the family home, where it lies covered in a white sheet on the floor or a table. Candles are lit at the four corners around the body, and visitors come to pay their respects in the coming days.

Family’s don’t entrust the body to a funeral home, but rather bring the coffin to the home, where personal belongings are placed inside it, with the body, for use in the afterlife.

4) Sweden


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In Sweden, death is an intimate and private affair. Traditionally, only immediate family members attend the funeral, where songs are sung and native flowers are placed on the coffin.

Interestingly, the dead are not buried until a few weeks after the moment of death, perhaps a lay over from the far past when a person could have been in a coma and recovered.

5) South Africa


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The dead are seen with fear and respect in South Africa. Sometimes the windows of the deceased’s house might be covered with ash, and there might be a ritual sacrifice of an animal, intended to please the family’s ancestors, after someone dies.

If you attend the funeral of a deceased person in South Africa, you might wash off the dust on your body before entering the family’s home in order to wash any bad luck you might have lingering on you.

And if it’s in a lively community, there may be a party after this, to remember the dead with laughter and light.

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