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Durham e-Theses
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What makes a good funeral?

EDWARDS, JANE,ELIZABETH (2022) What makes a good funeral? Doctoral thesis, Durham University.

PDF (What makes a good funeral thesis) - Accepted Version


This thesis explores what makes a good funeral in contemporary Britain today. Situated within the discipline of practical theology, it examines the funeral from anthropological, psychological and historical perspectives. This provides the context for the qualitative study which involved interviews with ten bereaved people who have arranged a funeral within the last two years and ten funeral officiants including clergy, humanist and civil officiants. The methodological framework was provided by mutual critical correlation and the findings analysed using thematic analysis.
The findings of this study suggest that funerals are generative and as such bring new life in the midst of death. Previous research has highlighted the life motif present in many funeral ceremonies. This research adds to earlier studies by identifying many ways in which funerals can be generative. In this study the role of the officiant is perceived as one involving considerable professional skill. The marks of a good funeral were identified as compassionate care, tailored rituals, ceremonial expertise and death containment. This is the first study that applies the concept of compassionate care, widely researched within the health profession, to the work of the funeral officiant. Within this study the psychological concept of containment is applied to funerals for the first time, arguing that through providing containment, the funeral ritual can prevent death being overwhelming to the bereaved. Christian ceremonies were seen to offer a unique aspect of Christian hope whilst Humanist ceremonies may offer hope in a different form.

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Award:Doctor of Philosophy
Keywords:Funeral, Christian, Humanist, Civil, Officiant, Grief, Ritual
Faculty and Department:Faculty of Arts and Humanities > Theology and Religion, Department of
Thesis Date:2022
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:16 May 2023 12:39

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