Death and dying are viewed differently throughout the world. In this post I will be discussing the life event of death, and how death is viewed in Ireland. Ireland and people of the Irish culture view death not in a totally separate way that people in the United States do, however there are some significant differences. These differences and similarities will be discussed in this post. There is an idea that you must have all your assets in order towards the end of your life. A common practice is to make sure there is a will for living family members to follow after death. In Ireland and other places, it is often left until the last minute. “The reluctance to plan for end-of-life has been noted” (Weafer 2014.) I believe there is a reluctance to plan for death because that make the possibility of dying more real. “Irish people are willing to record their end-of-life preferences if requested” (Weafer 2014.) This just reiterates my point that people do not want to consider death until they a requested to do so.
“There are no longer shared norms as to how to die and how to mourn.” (Long 2004) This is something that was stated in Long’s article that stuck out to me. They are right in the sense that everyone, everywhere mourn differently. However, I would argue slightly that dying is almost the same everywhere. The difference in dying is only when an individual is considered dead, and who they are pronounced dead by. In Ireland, as well as the United States, there is a sort of protocol that must be followed when someone dies. “Immediately following the death of an individual, a family member or friend must call the Garda and the Coroner.” (When Someone Dies 2018) The Garda is the Republic of Ireland’s police force. To register a death in Ireland a Death Notification Form stating the cause of death must be filled out. “If the deceased’s doctor did not see them at least 28 days before the death occurred or if the doctor is unhappy about the cause of death, the Coroner must be informed and decide if a post-mortem examination is necessary.” (When Someone Dies 2018) This practice is, I believe to be, the same as in the United States. The practice in which an individual with medical schooling is the one who pronounces an individual deceased, and it is usually Coroner the pronounces cause of death.
There is one practice in Irish culture that while there has been a shift away from it, some people still practice it. It is a way of grieving. It is called “keening.” “Keening is when the women family member would cry and wail over the deceased.” (O’ Longain 2013) This would happen at the wake. At the wake, which is often held at the home of the deceased or a close relative. A room is prepared for the deceased, often a bedroom. After the death of an individual a window is opened to allow the spirit of the deceased to leave the house. No one is to block the window, because that may prevent the spirit from leaving and bring misfortune to the person who blocks the window. The window is closed after two hours to prevent the spirit from re-entering (O’Langain 2013.) While this may seem superstitious to an individual that follows American cultural customs, it is an important part of the Irish grieving process. The main goal of the death and dying process is to make sure there is a sense of peace in the after-life, in almost every culture.
Long, S. O. (2004). Cultural scripts for a good death in Japan and the US. Social Science and Medicine, 58, 913-928. Retrieved July 18, 2018, from http://anthropology.msu.edu/anp270-us18/files/2015/05/Cultural-scripts-for-a-good-death-in-Japan-and-the-US-Long-2004.pdf
O’ Longain, S. (2013, May 9). Irish Burial Traditions. In Your Irish Culture. Retrieved July 18, 2018, from https://www.yourirish.com/traditions/irish-burial-traditions
Weafer, J. A. (2014). Irish Attitudes to Death, Dying and Bereavement. Retrieved from The Irish Hospice Foundation: http://hospicefoundation.ie/wp-content/uploads/2014/12/Weafer-J-2014-Irish-attidudes-to-death-dying-bereavement-2004-2014.pdf
When Someone Dies. (2018, June 7). In Citizens Information. Retrieved July 18, 2018, from http://www.citizensinformation.ie/en/death/when_someone_dies_in_ireland.htm