In "Riddle and Mystery," a Tapestry of Faith program
Help the group explore and understand the "death culture" of your congregation by investigating the physical spaces and mementos, funeral and memorial practices and recent history of the congregation with regard to deaths in the community.
It is of course important for leaders conducting this activity to be very sensitive to participant experiences with death, especially recent ones.
Youth might benefit from hearing about the differences between traditional funeral services and the memorial services more typically held in UU congregations. Traditional funerals are often designed around traditional rituals of the dead person's religion, such as readings from Christian or Jewish scripture or performances of special music. The body of the deceased may be present in a casket. The casket might be open or closed. Memorial services typically focus on the life of the person who has died. Family members and friends may speak. Readings and music can be just about anything that was meaningful to the deceased and remains meaningful to survivors. Laughter is less likely to be heard at a funeral than at a memorial service, where people often tell stories about the dead person in order to celebrate their life.
If you want a minister, a hospice nurse, a doctor, or another congregational member familiar with death to join the group, choose someone with experience and comfort working with sixth graders. When you introduce the guest, tell the youth that you have invited them because they encounter death regularly in their work and are here to give participants a chance to ask any questions they may have about death.
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Last updated on Thursday, October 27, 2011.
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