I have selected some items of interest from the libraries I use regularly.  Your library may not have these items available.  To search other libraries, library consortia,  and other sources for these materials please click here.

United States of America

These resources about funeral customs in the United States should start your trek off quite well.  Some annotated resources appear at the top and others are mentioned below.  If you want more information please ask a librarian!

¤ Milford, J. (2000). The American way of death revisited. New York: Simon and Schuster.

An often cynical look at what the author calls the death industry in the United States.  The obsequies common in American culture are often profit driven with the unfortunate leveraging of mourners guilt to increase funeral directors bottom lines.

¤ Howarth, G., & Weeks, O. D. (1997, March/April). Last rites : The work of the modern funeral
     director. Omega : an international journal for the study of dying, death, bereavement, suicide
     and other lethal behaviors, 35(4), 425-28.

A short but concise look at modern funeral practices in the United States.  Almost the antithesis of Milford's book above. This article presents the work of funeral directors in a complementary light. The role of the funeral director in the grief process and how the funeral service enhances the feeling of closure for those surviving.

¤ Carlson, L. (1998). Caring for the dead : your final act of love. Hinesburg, VT: Upper Access.

A look at the alternatives to traditional funeral home funerals so common in the United States today.  Personal stories of alternative funeral rites including starting a funeral committee in ones town and establishing a non-profit community cemetery. A balanced look at the state of the funeral industry at present and alternatives to the high cost of the traditional America funeral.  This is almost the Emily Post guide for funerals and death.

¤ York, S. (2000). Remembering well : rituals for celebrating life and mourning death. San Francisco:
     Jossey-Bass.

This volume explores the rites and rituals with which we surround death in the United States.  Another how to do it guide, the author wishes to assist the reader in doing the funeral right.  A bit of new age mixed with age old traditions are recommended to commit the dead to their final resting place and the living to a feeling of peacefulness.
 

Our country is a montage of different cultures and customs.  The items below will reveal how those customs have carried on in the United States.

¤ Martin, J. F. (1993, October). The rites of death: Celebrating a life. A personal account of a well
     celebrated funeral.  Modern Liturgy, v 20 n 8, 18-25.
An inside look at the Catholic funeral rite from the priest's point of view.  A funeral is more than a send off, it is a celebration of the Mass and a celebration and remembrance of the life of the deceased.

¤ Crissman, J. K. (1994). Death and dying in central Appalachia: changing attitudes and practices.
     Urbana, Il: University of Illinois Press.
The isolation and solitude of rural Appalachia have brought together old customs giving honor to the deceased and providing comfort to the survivors with some modern funeral rites including new methods to prepare and preserve the body.  Perhaps the most unique funeral customs in the United States not practiced by non-native Americans nor recent foreign immigrants.

Other resources which show the diversity of cultures and the mutual integration into American traditions are listed below.

¤ United Stated Department of Defense. (2002, May 23). Military funeral honors. Retrieved November 15,
     2002, from http://www.militaryfuneralhonors.osd.mil/ .

¤ Prothero, S. R. (2001). Purified by fire : a history of cremation in America. Berkeley: University
     of California Press.
       Also available as a netLibrary electronic text through participating
       libraries. See http://www.netLibrary.com/urlapi.asp?action=summary&v=1&bookid=66035 .

¤ Kalish, R. A. (Ed.). (1980). Death and dying: Views from many cultures. Farmingdale, NY: Baywood
     Publishing Co.

¤ Porrath, S. (1985). Life beyond the final curtain: death is not the end--how to cope with grief :
     Words of comfort-- a rabbi's personal statement. Hoboken: KTAV Publishing House.

¤ Saying Kaddish. Jewish Theological Seminary of America. 1997. Videocassette. Sisu Home Entertainment.

¤ Matunde, S. (1990). Crossing the great river: a glimpse into the funeral rites of Afrikan-Amerikan
     people. Philadelphia: Freeland Publications.

¤ The road home. Yu, Z., Shi, B. 2001. Videocassette. Columbia Pictures Film Production Asia.

¤ Bunting, E., & Vo, D. M. (1982). The happy funeral. New York: Harper & Row.
       Juvenile fiction.  A Chinese American girl pays tribute to her grandfather as she assists with the preparation
       for his funeral