We know humans find some form of value in guarding or watching the bodies of the deceased, but in the first article for his new column, Jason Goldman explains how we are beginning to discover that animals may have similar needs.

When a Jewish person dies, according to tradition, a member of a group called the chevra kadisha stays with the body from death until burial, continually reciting passages from the book of Psalms. For those in the Catholic church, friends and family members gather together in the presence of the deceased in a ceremony called a wake. Similarly, when ancient Romans died, relatives immediately gathered around the body, reciting lamentations. The body was kept close, in the atrium of the family home, until the funeral procession began.

These behaviours transcend cultural boundaries. While the details vary from tradition to tradition, the pattern is undeniable: humans seem to find value in guarding or watching the bodies of the deceased for some period of time following death.

But as we are beginning to discover, these behaviours may transcend species boundaries as well.

Read more at BBC

Published On: September 19, 2012

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