The Echoes

Filed under In-Depth

Exposing on Expiring

You're Killing me!! Death in different cultures and places

Hang on for a minute...we're trying to find some more stories you might like.


Email This Story






Human beings go through many changes.

From puberty to senility, the numerous twists and turns of the world are what make humans who they are. One major change, however, stands above the rest.

What happens once humans die?

Philosophical debates raged in the prehistoric times as well as today. No one holds the same convictions when it comes to death.

On this mortal coil, at least, the answers are a bit more clear.

Certain cultures view death as something to be mourned and grieved. The loss of a loved one is a painful blow, and humans need time to deal with that as best they can.

On the other hand, some cultures view death as something to be celebrated and honored. What could be better than getting to see the Great Beyond and seeing your other family members and friends?

All over the world, death makes its impact in different ways. However, death isn’t always seen as a boogeyman or grim reaper who snatches lives indiscriminately.

“We celebrate their passing on and how they aren’t in pain. We’re happy for them,” Senior Leslie Amaro said.

In Mexico, death is handled far differently than in America.

“There are nine days of grieving in Mexico after someone dies–it’s called the novena,” Amaro said. The nine days is the standard, but sometimes it takes more than that.

“You do some self-grieving on your own time. It’s just however long you need,” Amaro said.

The family of the deceased tells stories about their loved one, talk with those who come to visit, and enjoy dinners for every night of the novena. On the final day, the family finishes it with a proper burial.

“We’re happy they’re in a better place,” Amaro said.

However, burials in Mexico are very different from those in America.

“We usually cremate them, and then we put them to rest in a church. Usually, the church they were married in is the church they lay to rest in,” Amaro said.

However, Amaro’s first time attending a Mexican funeral was a strange experience.

“Even though the proceeding was normal, it was like, ‘Okay, this is what we do and this

is what’s going to happen,’” Amaro said. A subcontinent away, the Colombian

people deal with death in a familiar flavor while also putting their own twist on the process.

Colombians see death as a celebration of the life of the loved one. They spend their time trying to enjoy themselves in honor of the deceased since it’s what they would have wanted.

Colombians bury the deceased as soon as possible as a show of respect. The grieving lasts very little since it’s more common to focus on the positive than the negative in the culture.

Families often dance, prepare feasts, and drink with guests while also telling stories of the deceased. It is seen as an honor to be able to visit God in his Heavenly Kingdom, since Colombia is a predominantly Catholic country.

The grieving process is carried out through the festivities, which is different from Mexican processions.

However, death isn’t looked upon lightly.

After the celebrations are over, a special mass is held at the local church in which churchgoers pray for the affected families and sing hymns for them. This is as solemn as it gets.

In certain cultures, death isn’t seen as a faceless monster but as a portal into the next life. However, many cultures view death with an arm’s distance away.

In America, death is often seen as a mournful time for everyone involved. Funerals have family members dressed in black and in silence as commemorations are read.

Other countries view death in the same light, but the

proceedings are completely different.
“We don’t like to talk about death–it’s something no

one wants to talk about,” Chinese teacher Jin Ni said. Ni is from Hebei Province in China, where she

grew up and spent most of her life.
“In Chinese, the word for death sounds similar

to the number four. As a result, you never see that number in business and people try to avoid it,” Ni said.

Ni remembers when her grandfather passed away
in 2008 and how jarring the change was for her and her family.

“I walked into the house and noticed the machines were all gone–since he was very sick, we needed many machines to help him. I asked the state workers, ‘Where is my grandpa? What happened?’ Ni said.

Ni was at work when her grandfather passed away and was unable to receive the call the state sent out.

In China, when someone dies, the state informs their family members, even if they are out of the country. In that case, the government issues visas to allow the family members to retrieve the remains quickly so they can have a proper funeral in China.

“They informed me then that he had passed away,” Ni said.

“When I went to my first funeral, I was very shocked. There were people crying and and yelling, and I was shocked because I never saw them do that before,” Ni said.

“It felt like, ‘What is happening? Everyone is not themself!’”

While the sentiment is the same overseas, the burial proceedings are especially different. In China, unlike the USA, bodies are customarily cremated.

“They are still put in tombs, but they are cremated first. We have a joke that says you can’t even die in China because the tombs are expensive!” Ni laughed. “Sometimes, people put the ashes in the ocean, but they are usually buried,”Ni said.

Along with speaking with the guests and sharing a dinner, family members

will also pay tribute to the deceased. Pictures are put up of the deceased as well. The grieving process isn’t as defined as in Mexico, though.

“I knew it was coming, and I still feel sad about it. I wish we could have done something to help,” Ni said.

There is no average grieving process in China. It all boils down to the individual and how long they need to take.

“My grandmother took it very hard. After my grandfather died, she aged so fast because she lost the will to live,” Ni said.

In European countries, the proceedings are startlingly similar to those in the USA.

“In Germany, when a family member dies, it’s customary to send out announcements to the other family members and close friends. It looks very similar to a formal invitation, but it’s actually an announcement of their loved one’s death,” Hinze explained.
After that, the German culture mixes with American culture quite a bit.
“The funeral is almost the same as over here. The cemeteries are, too,” Hinze said.
“You can see flowers on the graves in the cemeteries every day. When I lived in Germany, the cemetery was in the middle of the village,” Hinze said.

Hinze feels the grieving process is difficult to pin down.
“It’s an ongoing process. I’m not sure it’s ever complete, especially if it’s a close friend or loved one,” Hinze said.
Of all the curveballs life throws at humans, death is one of the most complicated to understand.
No one approaches it the same way, from the individual to the culture.

Everyone has different opinions on what happens in the afterlife. Sometimes it’s incredibly difficult to find closure after the fact as well.

Sometimes it stays forever and never heals.
Other times, it’s a beautiful celebration of one’s life and their achievements.
The life of the dead is placed in the memory of the living.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Leave a Comment

If you want a picture to show with your comment, go get a gravatar.




The student news site of Scottsbluff High School
Exposing on Expiring