A qualitative, collective case study explores bereavement rituals in the Muscogee Creek tribe. Data from interviews with 27 participants, all adult members of the tribe, revealed consensus on participation in certain bereavement rituals. Common rituals included (a) conducting a wake service the night before burial; (b) never leaving the body alone before burial; (c) enclosing personal items and food in the casket; (d) digging graves by hand; (e) each individual throwing a handful of dirt into the grave before covering, called giving a ‘‘farewell handshake’’; (f) covering the grave completely by hand; (g) building a house over the grave; (h) waiting 4 days before burial; (i) using medicine=purification; and (j) adhering to socialized mourning period. Cultural values of family, community, religion, importance of the number 4, Indian medicine, and the meaning of death contributed to the development of these rituals.
Andrea C Walker and David E. Balk. "Bereavement Rituals in the Muscogee Creek Tribe" Death Studies Vol. 31 (2007) p. 633 - 652 Available at: http://works.bepress.com/andrea-walker/3/