American Burial Traditions & Good Samaritan Laws

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North American Burial Traditions:

North American Burial Traditions By Manuel A. Gallegos RN, BSN Personal Care Assistant Class Spring 2012


OBJECTIVES Bereavement is a natural response to the death of a loved one Be aware of a big decision facing those who have lost a loved one in the U.S. Understand what is the embalming process Understand what happens in a wake or viewing, the funeral service, and a burial

The Loss of a Loved One is Devastating:

The Loss of a Loved One is Devastating

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Death leads to bereavement Bereavement literally means to “tear up, the loss, the issue against one’s will.” We cope with bereavement through grief Grief is one’s emotional reaction to the actual event of loss. And mourning is the process by which we incorporate the experience of loss into the ongoing life process

The Big Decision:

The Big Decision In the US, every family that experiences the death of a loved one will have a very important decision Whether or not to see their loved one prior to either burial or cremation This decision should not be taken lightly as it cannot be done over if it is regretted later Viewing the deceased can be done for just the family or for family and friends

If the Decision is to View, Embalming Will Take Place:

If the Decision is to View, Embalming Will Take Place When the body of the deceased is received at the funeral home It is placed on a stainless steel or porcelain worktable, and clothes, jewelry, glasses, and other items are removed The Embalmer first washes the body with a germicidal soap or disinfectant spray The Embalmer closes the eyes and mouth arranging the facial appearance as necessary and then positions the rest of the body in a resting position

Embalming at the Funeral Home:

Embalming at the Funeral Home

Define Embalming and Goals:

Define Embalming and Goals Embalming is the art and science of temporarily preserving human remains (some may preserve for long-term ) to forestall decomposition and to make them suitable for public display at a funeral The three goals of embalming are thus sanitization , presentation and preservation (or restoration) of a corpse to achieve this effect Embalming has a very long and cross-cultural history, with many cultures giving the embalming processes a greater religious meaning

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The actual embalming process starts with two small incisions made, usually in the neck, arm, or thigh This allows the Embalmer to insert the preservative fluid into the circulatory system with the use of an injection machine This forces the blood out the other incision into which a drainage tube has been placed

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After the body is rewashed and dried, a moisturizing cream is applied to the body After being dressed for visitation/funeral services, cosmetics are applied to make the body appear more lifelike and to create a "memory picture" for the deceased's friends and relatives The funeral director may sometimes use, a heavier, opaque cosmetics to hide bruises, cuts, or discolored areas Makeup is applied to the lips to mimic their natural color

The Wake, Visitation or Viewing:

The Wake, Visitation or Viewing

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In the US, many Viewing Services will take place in a funeral home, although some viewings can also be conducted in a church In some areas of the US, the viewing may occur in the home of the deceased or that of a relative The viewing is often held the evening before the day of the funeral, however, it can also occur immediately before the funeral service on the same day

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In the Western world, men are typically buried in business attire , such as a suit or coat and tie, and women in semi-formal dresses or pant suits In recent years, a change has occurred and many individuals are now buried in less formal clothing, such as what they would have worn on a daily basis, or other favorite attire Clothing worn can also reflect the deceased person's profession or vocation:

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After learning of the death, guests usually pay their respects at the funeral home during the wake There is usually a guest book which is signed by everyone who attends so that family members may send thank you cards at a later date Family members can decide to have the casket remain closed, and instead display photographs, prized possessions or any other items belonging to the deceased

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Friends of the deceased and other family members frequently send flowers and cards to the funeral home for the viewing service Friends and loved ones are also welcome to stand and speak about the deceased as a way of honoring them A prayer and sermon is usually given by the funeral service director or another invited guest of the clergy Near the end of the wake service, guests are invited to view the body and say a final farewell

The Funeral Service:

The Funeral Service

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During the service, prayers, readings from the Bible or other sacred texts, hymns and songs, and words of comfort and a eulogy are given The customs and traditions will dictate the type of music, if any, is played during the service Near the end of the funeral service, like with the wake, guests, family and spouses are invited to view the deceased The funeral service is usually held between 3 to 5 days following the death

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The service is usually officiated by clergy and can takes place in either a church or funeral home If the service is to be held at church, the deceased is transported from the funeral home to the church in a hearse, which is part of the funeral procession Near the end of the funeral service, like with the wake, guests, family and spouses are invited to view the deceased Once the funeral service has ended, the burial will follow

The Burial Service :

The Burial Service

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A burial service is considered the final part of many US and Canadian traditions and is the final moment to say a final farewell before laying the body of the deceased to rest It typically takes place at the grave site, tomb, mausoleum or crematorium if the body will undergo cremation In many instances, the burial service will immediately follow the funeral service and the funeral procession will travel from the site of the memorial service to the burial site

At the Cemetery:

At the Cemetery

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According to most religions, the casket remains closed during the burial ceremony and a final prayer may be said and the deceased is placed into the burial area or prepared for cremation Morticians will typically ensure that all jewelry worn by the deceased are in the casket before it is buried or entombed If the body is to be cremated, these items may remain or be removed prior to the process

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Any pacemakers must be removed prior to cremation as they could explode and cause damage to the crematorium In many traditions, a meal or other gathering follows the burial service This gathering may be held at a church or in the home of the deceased or other family member


Summary Death leads to bereavement and we cope with bereavement through the ________ process When a family member passes away in the US, an important ________ must be made? If a family chooses to have an open casket for viewing, then __________ will take place Typically Americans will have a wake or viewing, the funeral service, and then the burial service.


References Funeral Industry - rituals, world, burial, body, life, customs, history, time, human

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