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Death Rituals and Spirituality

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Reading the article by Jeffrey Irish I found such aspects of the Japanese death rituals to be unusual: they put the triangle of white cloth on a dead person’s head, they preserve some bones of the cremated person and other bones they throw into the sea, and members of the family wear white cloth at funerals for purification because it is believed that death is contaminating. Meals are not prepared in the house of the dead person for the same reason. The fact that after the funeral people are sprinkled with salt is also unusual.

One of the universal beliefs about death among the Japanese people is that the cat should not be present at funerals because it is a bad sign, and that is why people lock their cats indoors. Japanese people believe that there is no eternal life and forgiveness, after the death a person enters the state of Nirvana.

If one compares mourning rituals in Japan and the USA, one can see the clear differences. The first distinct feature is that cremation is not so popular with Americans. They prefer the burial. Americans also use natural flowers during funerals while Japanese people use only artificial flowers. Americans are also not as spiritual as people in Japan, and there is no division between males and females in American mourning rituals, both male and female relatives stand together at the wake or the burial of the body.

This information influences a health care practice a lot. To be a good health care professional one has to be culturally competent. If the doctor knows the culture and traditions of his or her patient, then he will more likely find a common language with the patient, and it will be easier to treat him or her. An effective health care practice is impossible without cultural competence.

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