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“Funerals aren’t nice but it couldn’t have been nicer”. The makings of a good funeral

Holloway, Margaret; Adamson, Susan; Argyrou, Vassos; Draper, Peter; Mariau, Daniel

Authors

Margaret Holloway

Susan Adamson

Daniel Mariau

Abstract

There is growing comment in both academic and popular writing about the shape and content of funerals today, with general agreement that we are seeing marked changes with a growing trend towards secularisation and personalisation. Despite this, there is as yet relatively little systematic research on the topic. This article reports on a study funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council UK into spirituality in contemporary funerals. This qualitative study centred around case studies of 46 funerals in the north of England and gathered data from observations of funeral arrangement meetings as well as the funeral and semi-structured interviews with bereaved families and funeral professionals. The way both sets of participants engaged with the funeral and its constituent elements in an active process of meaning-seeking, meaning-creating and meaning-taking was closely aligned with contemporary understandings of humanistic spirituality. There was, however, little evidence of adherence to formal religious belief systems or wider philosophical frameworks amongst the bereaved families but considerable evidence of drawing on religious tradition and specific beliefs to locate personal meaning-making. The authors conclude that the funeral remains a significant ceremonial event which is psycho-social-spiritual in character and purpose.

Publication Date 2013-02
Journal Mortality
Print ISSN 1357-6275
Electronic ISSN 1469-9885
Publisher Taylor & Francis (Routledge)
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 18
Issue 1
Pages 30-53
Institution Citation Holloway, M., Adamson, S., Argyrou, V., Draper, P., & Mariau, D. (2013). “Funerals aren’t nice but it couldn’t have been nicer”. The makings of a good funeral. Mortality, 18(1), 30-53. https://doi.org/10.1080/13576275.2012.755505
DOI https://doi.org/10.1080/13576275.2012.755505
Keywords Philosophy; Religious studies; Health (social science)
Publisher URL http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/13576275.2012.755505
Additional Information This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis in Mortality on 15th January 2013, available online: http://wwww.tandfonline...80/13576275.2012.755505

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