Death, Dying and Loss in the 21st Century by Allan Kellehear

By Allan Kellehear

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Two main reasons are identified for this. Firstly, some cremated remains are not interred within cemeteries. Secondly, those who maintain a stronger association with the body of their deceased are more inclined to choose burial and to visit more frequently. The latter reason was found more commonly with Southern European families, but was also evident among those of other ethnicities (including Anglo-Protestants) who had lost a child. So, although virtually as many stillborn babies are cremated as are buried, major crematorium service records show that ten times as many deceased children who have lived beyond birth are buried than are cremated (Bachelor 2004:88).

Moderately common activities include crying and praying. Crying is reported more during early stages of grief, among females, and Volume 16, Issue 5, December 2007 particularly those of southern European origin. Graveside prayer is a moderately common practice among some religious visitors. Other activities less frequently reported include performing various religious rites, kissing the memorial, feasting or drinking with the decedent, placing mementos and gifts on the grave, standing silently at the memorial site, talking with other mourners, and conjuring up images of the decedent.

Yet this choice has become less available in contemporary memorial parks developed within the homogenising concepts of non-denominationalism or multiculturalism (Bachelor 2001:45; 2002:15). The phenomena of bereavement and grief are common across human cultures. Practical issues acted out in the cemetery, including the funeral, memorialisation and visitation may overtly display notable cultural variations, but these practices are found to serve essentially similar purposes to most people. Within the cemetery, significant behavioural variances are more evident between the sexes than between most ethnicities.

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