After reading and article by Susan Orpett Long on the cultural differences of determining brain death. I furthered my investigation into a life event of more specifically, Death in Argentina. There was one word that seemed to appear very often in my research. The word was Power. Many Argentinians believe that there is a great deal of power that lay with the dead. So much power that it has created a sacred “obsession” with the dead. The population has a high respect, due to the strong belief that the dead has a great influence on the living world. It’s a little more than just respecting their ancestors. To the Argentinians, places of tombs and death are sites of phenomenal power (Barkey, 2012). Although it is respected, it is prevented to extreme lengths. Given the large Catholic population, death is not welcomed at any age for any reason.
Medical staff holds the authoritative power to declare death, with the heavy influence of the Church, holds the authoritative knowledge for death within Argentina. However, the government holds the knowledge. But, with the Death with Dignity Act passed in 2012, the people of Argentina were finally able to die similar to the USA. Before 2012 families would have to tract down judges to force doctors to end life-support or for people in permanent vegetative states (CBS, 2012). This now gave authoritative power to the families.
In the event of death, for friend or family – the first thing to do is contact a doctor who certifies the death. If the death is of suspicious nature, then you call the police. Without that the doctor would supply a death certificate.
Following the death of a loved one, the first step is to plan the wake/viewing. The body is prepared by a funeral home most often. They often organize this as soon as possible in comparison to other countries. Usually held at the deceased’s home. People gather to share stories, provide support, and pay their respects (Goldade, 2018). This is followed with a funeral. Since 70% of the population is Catholic, an Argentinian funeral holds the Catholic traditions. Also meaning it is very rarely a cremation. With cremation you would need to see approval and confirmation that the death did not include murder, suicide, or accidental death. Similar to the speedy wake, the burial is also expected to be as soon as possible. For the death of a child or baby it is more special. Includes a dancing and singing ritual to remember the life that died to young, this honor is called Velorio del Angelito. Which means Little Angel’s Wake (Goldade, 2018)
The death is marked with an extremely devote burial possibly including a large tomb stone or photos or memorabilia or in the case of a child with toys. The final step is on the anniversary of their death, there is a Catholic mass that will be held to remember and honor the soul of a loved one. The people of Argentina do not ever forget their ancestors and continue traditions in memory. People visit the dead for advice and bring gifts, they visit people they have never known nor related to (Barkey, 2012). Argentina sees the dead to hold power over them, in a blessing sort of way.
Long, Susan. “Cultural Scripts for a Good Death in Japan and the United States: Similarities and Differences.” Anthropology MSU, Elsevier, 2004, anthropology.msu.edu/anp270-us18/files/2015/05/Cultural-scripts-for-a-good-death-in-Japan-and-the-US-Long-2004.pdf.
Barkey, D. (2012, April 13). Sacred Obsessions – The Power of the Dead in Argentine Culture. Retrieved July 20, 2018, from https://fotonotes.org/2011/12/20/sacred-obsessions-the-power-of-the-dead-in-argentine-culture/
CBS. (2012, May 10). Argentina’s senate votes for “dignified death” law. Retrieved July 20, 2018, from https://www.cbsnews.com/news/argentinas-senate-votes-for-dignified-death-law/
Goldade, J. (2018, March 23). CULTURAL SPOTLIGHT: ARGENTINIAN FUNERAL TRADITIONS. Retrieved July 20, 2018, from http://www.frazerconsultants.com/2018/03/cultural-spotlight-argentinian-funeral-traditions/