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Regardless of how or where we are born, what unites people of all cultures is the fact everyone eventually dies. However, cultures vary in how they conceptualize death and what happens when a person dies. In some cultures, death is conceived to involve different conditions, including sleep, illness, and reaching a certain age. In other cultures, death is said to occur only when there is a total cessation of life. Similarly, certain cultural traditions view death as a transition to other forms of existence; others propose a continuous interaction between the dead and the living; some cultures conceive a circular pattern of multiple deaths and rebirths; and yet others view death as the final end, with nothing occurring after death. These different conceptions have a noticeable influence on their lifestyles, their readiness to die for a cause, the degree to which they fear death, their expressions of grief and mourning, and the nature of funeral rituals. Any reasonably broad conceptualization of death issues would necessarily have to incorporate these various cultural variations.

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