Do Funerals Matter?
The Purposes and Practices of Death Rituals in Global Perspective
Foreword by J. William Worden
Routledge – 2013 – 210 pages
Do Funerals Matter? is a creative interweaving of historical, sociocultural, and research-based perspectives on death rituals, drawing from myriad sources to create a picture of what death rituals have been; and where, especially in the Western world, they are going. Death educators, researchers, counselors, clergy, funeral-service professionals, and others will appreciate the book’s theory- and research-based approach to the ways in which different cultural groups memorialize their dead. They will also find clear clinical and practical applications in the author’s exploration of the five ritual anchors of death-related ceremonial practice and help for professionals counseling the bereaved surrounding funerals. Based on nearly three decades of research and teaching on funeral rites, this volume promises to fill an important gap in the cross-cultural literature on bereavement, while answering an important question for our generation: Do funerals matter?
"Do funerals ‘matter’ anymore? Bill Hoy resoundingly answers ‘Yes!’ in what I think will become the definitive book on the topic. Hoy blends his personal experience with ritual as a minister, a clinician, and a mourner with a vast palette of research. I thought I knew a lot about funerals, but this book kept me reading and it has strengthened my appreciation for the elements of a good funeral. Rare among academic books, this one is a page-turner!"
—Harold Ivan Smith, DMin, FT, Saint Luke's Hospital, Kansas City, Missouri, and author of Borrowed Narratives
"Bill Hoy’s remarkable book combines elements that one would not expect to find coexisting happily within a single cover. It introduces a five-part template for performing proper grief rituals that proves extraordinarily useful, then extends this study to include knowledgeable discussions of the death rituals of many cultures. It is remarkable to find so many topics covered with such proficiency and competence in a single volume, and funeral and grief professionals will benefit from his suggestions. I recommend this book without a single reservation."
—Kevin O’Neill, PhD, professor emeritus in philosophy, University of Redlands
"Bill Hoy’s masterful volume on the importance of funerals and death rituals is refreshing, enlightening, and, yes, entertaining. Illustrated with stories gathered from around the world, Hoy finishes with practical suggestions on how therapeutic rituals can be incorporated into the bereaving process. Although this is an invaluable tool for grief counselors, the book is engaging reading for anyone who wishes to understand the ‘how’ and ‘why’ of funerals and death rituals."
—Janet S. McCord, PhD, FT, chair of the Edwin S. Shneidman Department of Thanatology at Marian University
Acknowledgements Introduction 1. Funerals – Where We Have Been and Where We Are Going 2. More Treasured Than Words: The Value of Significant Symbols 3. Getting Everybody Together: The Value of Gathered Community 4. Walk Out What You Can’t Talk Out: The Value of Ritual Action 5. Looking Back to Look Forward: The Value of Cultural Heritage 6. Taking the Dead to the Party: The Value of the Body’s Presence7. The North American Quest to Customize/Personalize Funeral Rituals 8. The Business of Funerals 9. Clinical Perspectives on Funeral Value 10. Father Down the Road: Using Ritual in Grief Counseling Epilogue Glossary References
William G. Hoy, DMin, FT, has studied funeral rites for three decades, examining how they are used around the world to help mourners make sense of death and to negotiate the radical changes that come about in the aftermath of a loved person’s death. He has worked as a clergyman, pastoral counselor, and scholar in congregation, hospice, bereavement center and university settings. Dr. Hoy holds the Fellow in Thanatology (FT) advanced practice credential from the Association for Death Education and Counseling, and teaches in the Medical Humanities Program in the College of Arts and Sciences at Baylor University in Waco, Texas.