Activity time: 15 minutes
Materials for Activity
- Leader Resource 1, Ritual Matching Game
- Newsprint, markers, and tape
Preparation for Activity
- Print Leader Resource 1.
- On a sheet of newsprint, list Muslim, Unitarian Universalist, Hindu, Catholic, and Jewish. Post the newsprint.
Description of Activity
Say, in these words or your own:
Different religions have different beliefs about death. And so, different religions have different rituals and signs they use when someone dies.
Read aloud the names of the religions listed on the newsprint. Tell the group you will describe some religious rituals for a death, and they are invited to match the ritual with the faith that practices that ritual. Point out that our Unitarian Universalist faith is included. Ask the children to listen to the whole ritual before calling out their guess.
Read the ritual descriptions from Leader Resource 1, except the UU description. After each description, allow answers and then give the correct answer. Point out that while these rituals are common in the religion, not all people of the religion practice the same rituals the same exact way.
Explain terms as needed. For example, "cremation" is a ritual where the body of the one who has died is burned in a special fireplace until it is just ashes; some families will scatter the ashes in a place that was important to the person who died. Or, they might keep the ashes in a special jar (an urn) in a religious place or a place very special to the person who died.
Along the way, allow volunteers to share their personal experiences with the rituals or religions you mention.
Once you have described all the rituals except UU, ask:
- What surprised you about a ritual in another faith?
UUs do not have a rule about a ritual for a death. Most UUs, but not all, want a memorial service to be held after they die. Sometimes UUs make plans before they die about how they want their memorial service to be. We believe there are many ways we can gather to celebrate a life that has ended and to share our feelings of sadness and loss.
Read the description of a UU ritual from Leader Resource 1, and/or share in your own words:
UUs may share photos of the person who died, and mementos from their life. Relatives and friends may take turns telling stories. The service might include favorite music and hymns of the person who died. The people who come to the memorial service might be given a printed Order of Service that includes an obituary, which tells some of the highlights of a person's life.
Sometimes people are sad because they miss their loved one. Sometimes people laugh while remembering fun times. It is natural to have all kinds of feelings after someone we cared for dies.
After the service, refreshments are often served. People eat and drink and socialize, keeping the loved one's memory alive by sharing stories about that person.
If these topics have not come up, prompt:
- Have you ever attended a UU memorial service? What was it like?
- Have you ever attended a memorial service or funeral from a different faith tradition? If yes, what faith tradition? What was the experience like?
If your congregation has specific memorial rituals, mention them. Explain that every religion has traditions about funerals and memorials. Ask the group why they think this is so.
Unitarian Universalists come together when someone has died to comfort each other and also to celebrate and remember their life. Each faith tradition has a ritual that helps to comfort those who survive and helps them share their prayers for the memory of the one who has died.