1st Edition

Do Funerals Matter? The Purposes and Practices of Death Rituals in Global Perspective

By William G. Hoy Copyright 2022
    226 Pages 10 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    226 Pages 10 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    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. The Classic Edition includes a new preface from the author reflecting on changes in the field since the book’s initial publication.

    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  four 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?

    1. Funerals—Where We Have Been and Where We Are Going  2. More Treasured Than Words: The Anchor of Significant Symbols  3. Getting Everybody Together: The Anchor of Gathered Community  4. Walk Out What You Can’t Talk Out: The Anchor of Ritual Action  5. Looking Back to Look Forward: The Anchor of Cultural Heritage  6. Taking the Dead to the Party: The Anchor of the Body’s Presence  7. North American Quests to Personalize Funeral Rituals  8. The Business of Funerals  9. Clinical Perspectives on the Value of Funerals  10. Farther Down the Road: Using Ritual in Grief Counseling


    William G. Hoy, DMin, FT, has studied funeral rites for more than four 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. Dr. Hoy holds the Fellow in Thanatology (FT) advanced practice credential from the Association for Death Education and Counseling. Following more than 17 years leading a hospice bereavement program, since 2012 he has been clinical professor of medical humanities at Baylor University in Waco, Texas.

    "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, USA

    "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, University of Redlands, USA

    "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 bereavement 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, Marian University, USA

    "Hoy has made a substantial study of funeral customs across many cultures for several decades... [Very] useful to bereavement counselors in helping grievers."

    Paul A. Metzler, DMin, ADEC Forum

    "In Do Funerals Matter? [Hoy] brings his research forward in ten chapters in which he seems to move easily between personal experiences, his observations of and readings about the customs of many cultures across the global village, and a deep familiarity with the thanatological professional literature... [This] book can contribute to a reconsideration of the current tendency to avoid or minimize funeral rituals so that grievers are better served by adequate funeral activities and practices."

    Paul A. Metzler, DMin, book review editor, Omega – Journal of Death and Dying