What is Death According to Different Cultures? 

21 Feb 2023

When we lose a loved one, we try to make sense of it. We try to assign meaning to why it happened. Perhaps, it’s our way of bringing ourselves some comfort to better get through a difficult time. 

Death and different cultures and religions 

Across different times and cultures, other people have been also trying to figure out the meaning of death. For centuries, they’ve been asking themselves several questions. Why does it happen? What happens after? Where do souls go after the death of the physical body? Is that really the end of life? 

As to causes, death happens because our physical bodies fail. Disease, accidents and biological aging are the most common causes. When our physical bodies fail to sustain life, death might come. This is an acceptable and modern explanation to why death happens. 

In the prehistoric and ancient times, some causes had been attributed to the supernatural, such as because of a curse or anger of a deity. Back then, they didn’t yet have the knowledge, tools and methods to accurately determine the cause of someone’s death. Still, they had to come up with the best explanation to what happened, which often refers back to supernatural causes. 

As to what happens after death, different cultures and religions also have varying explanations and interpretations. For example, the people of Mayan civilisation believe that there is a soul and there is an afterlife. Reincarnation has always been mentioned in their beliefs and religion. For the Vikings, they believe that Valhalla is the promised land of a Viking warrior. For Christians, they believe that death is not the end of our existence and that there is eternal life and salvation. 

When it comes to ourselves, we might have already come up with our interpretations about what happens after death. When we lose a loved one, perhaps we’ve already thought that they’re now in a better place, free from pain and suffering. This can bring us comfort and somehow help us peacefully get through with our everyday lives.