For Educators

Death and Dying – Background


It is likely that some students have had the misfortune of losing a grandparent, parent, sibling, or even a friend at a very young age. Others, however, may have yet to experience the death of a loved one. It may be very difficult for some students to grasp the inevitability of death, and it may be just as hard for them to understand why certain rituals and observances are practiced in different religions. In this lesson, students will explore some of the religious rituals and ceremonies that surround death, and they will consider the ways religious beliefs influence perceptions of death, dying, and the afterlife. They will discuss the possibility that religious beliefs comfort the dying and their loved ones, and help them accept the fate they are about to face. Students will consider why some people might be willing to take their own lives or the lives of others in the name of religion. Students will also look at some ethical issues that surround death, such as whether there is a right to die on one’s own terms.

Grade Level:

Grades 9-12

Time Allotment:

4-5 45-minute class periods

Subject Matter:

Behavioral Studies, Cultural Studies, Ethics, Language Arts, Religion

Learning Objectives

Students will:

  • Examine religious rituals and ceremonies surrounding death and dying.
  • Consider how religious beliefs bring comfort to those who are dying and their loved ones.
  • Explore end-of-life care in the United States and consider ways it might be improved.
  • Discuss common ethical issues and questions regarding the care and dying wishes of the terminally ill.
  • Consider the motives of religious extremists who take their own lives and the lives of others in the name of God.


This lesson was prepared by: Erin Audia