Rituals in Death and Dying: Modern Medical Technologies Enter the Fray


Michael Gordon, MD, MSc, FRCPC, Medical Program Director, Palliative Care, Baycrest Geriatric Health Care System, Professor of Medicine, University of Toronto, Toronto, ON.


In the absence of immortality, the human species has over the millennia developed rites and rituals to help in the passing of life to honor the person who is dying or has died or in some way demonstrate their "courage" and perseverance as well as duty even in the face of almost certain death. The centuries old traditions of the gathering of loved ones, the chanting of prayers, the ritual religious blessings are in the process of being replaced by the "miracles" of modern medical technology.

Key Words: Cross-cultural death, death, dying, rituals.