Funeral rites help people to cope with their loss and express their religious needs. Even in a secularised society such as that in the Netherlands large groups of people still fall back on ecclesiastic rites when a loved one dies. But how does one explain that there are more people participating in church funerals than people who assign religion a focal place in their lives? How do present-day funeral-goers regard the rites in which they participate? Does the rite actually help them to bridge the gaps left by the deceased? This study considers such questions from the angle of ritual and liturgical studies by way of empirical research into perceptions of present-day church funerals in the Netherlands.
Thomas Quartier (1972) teaches ritual and liturgical studies at the Faculty of Religious Studies and the Faculty of Theology of the Radboud University Nijmegen (The Netherlands).