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Ceremonies: Death

All three religions believe that physical death of the body is only the end of the earthly stage of life: the soul lives on for ever. Respect is always shown to the dead, whatever their particular faith. They are only spoken of well; all three religions acknowledge that God alone will judge them now.

 

Judaism

The body is to be buried immediately after death. The body is ritually washed and buried in a simple linen shroud. At the funeral, the Kaddish is recited. The family mourns for seven days, barely leaving the house. Visitors come to give their condolences. A lesser period of 30 days' mourning follows. In subsequent years the deceased is commemorated on the Yahrzeit, the anniversary of their death, by the lighting of a candle and the saying of Kaddish.

 

Christianity

There is no instruction to bury the body immediately after death. It is usually appropriate to send flowers. Christians may opt to be buried or cremated. There may be a memorial service (that is, a service without the body present) separate to the funeral. At a funeral black or dark clothing is usually worn. There is no set period of mourning or particular acts to be observed.

 

Islam

Muslims are also directed to wash the body of the deceased, which is buried in a shroud, and the head turned towards Mecca. Burial is done as soon as possible after death. The funeral prayer is performed standing, ideally by someone chosen by the deceased. Prayers are recited both on the day and 40 days after the death at which point the entire Qur'an is recited by the family and friends of the deceased. Mourning periods vary, but it is usually three days and nights. A spouse may be mourned for four months and ten days. Visitors come to give their condolences.