Buddhists take a positive stance when it comes to death: the best way to approach it is without fear. On Buddhanet, you can find an abundance of information focusing on the beliefs about death and dying in the Tibetan Buddhist tradition. Two of the most important aspects celebrate life more than they dwell on death. As stated on the site, “It is only by recognising how precious and how short life is that we are most likely to make it meaningful and to live it fully and by understanding the death process and familiarizing ourself with it, we can remove fear at the time of death and ensure a good rebirth.”
Based on that perspective, traditional Buddhist funerals take the opportunity to gather family and friends in order to remember the loved one who has passed. Bright, cheerful colors adorn the casket, ashes, or shrine. While there are no strict rules to burial methods, cremation is often the popular choice in Buddhist countries, primarily for hygienic reasons.
Oftentimes, monks chant during the preparation of the funeral in order to help release the good energy of the loved one’s personality. Monks stay present throughout the ceremony, leading prayers and chanting. Friends and family members provide food and candles for the monks as a sign of goodwill that will aid the departed in their next life.
Among the important principles leading up to a funeral in the Buddhist tradition, believers practice mindfulness and gratefulness for their lives before they reach their deaths. A great deal of personal, spiritual work goes into planning for death, which understandably lends one to have a positive outlook and some amount of control when their time comes. Whether practicing Buddhism or not, it seems there are many valuable ideas we can take and use toward our own relationship with death and end-of-life experience.