Date of Award

Spring 4-28-2017

Document Type


Primary Advisor

Dr. Erica Sirrine

Second Advisor

Dr. Gordon Miller


In the past, funerary rituals have been viewed as an important aspect in social society that were shaped by culture and need. However, now American society has become one of death avoidance that strives to ignore the subject and devalue the funeral ritual. Within this paper it is argued that participating in funerary rituals are of societal value for they are beneficial for those who are living. This is done through a review of literature that addresses rituals and their relation to symbols, the history, purposes, benefits, and drawbacks of funeral practices, and the death rituals of four major world religions. This literature review reveals that funerals provide multiple benefits that include the promotion of social cohesion, acting out grief, and finding hope and identity through one’s religious beliefs.