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What Happens When a Buddhist Dies?

Buddhism has a unique interpretation of the afterlife. Although there are many denominations of Buddhism, the essence of the faith remains the same. The cycle of life, reincarnation, enlightenment, and good deeds, lies at the core of each believer.

In Buddhism, death is a part of a cycle known as Samsara, which revolves around reincarnation or rebirth. To free the soul is what every Buddhist strives for, and how they act throughout life will determine their future lives. 

This belief unites all forms of Buddhism and builds the foundation of what happens when a Buddhist dies.

Buddhist Teaching About Death

According to the Buddhist faith, life is a continuum – the consciousness or the spirit continues even after death through rebirth. The ultimate goal is to liberate the soul from the cycle of life, death, and reincarnation so that it can reach the highest form: the state of Nirvana. 

The funeral ceremonies serve to ease the transition and help the spirit enter the next life. Therefore, there shouldn’t be any display of wealth as it goes against the belief of being compassionate and humble. Moreover, family and friends should reflect on the good deeds the deceased has done throughout their life.

Care of the Deceased

Once the person has died, Buddhists ensure that awareness is retained for some period. Hence, the body shouldn’t be moved, touched, or disturbed for a minimum of four hours. 

For the spirit to leave correctly, they adequately treat the body by maintaining a compassionate, stable, and calm atmosphere after the person has passed away. Buddhist monks or family members may complement this by chanting and praying after every step of the funeral rite.

After death, the body should receive essential cleaning and remain in everyday clothes.

Buddhist Funeral Rites

Although the rules may vary depending on the location and preference, Buddhist funerals are generally simple and peaceful. The ceremony can be held at the funeral home, a family home, or a temple.

If possible, monks should perform Buddhist rites, deliver sermons, and lead chants (sutras). The body is displayed in a simple, open casket with a photo of the deceased. The image of Buddha may also be nearby, as well as candles, fruit, flowers, and incense.


After the ceremony, the body may be cremated since the physical part of life (the body) holds little significance to the belief. However, Buddhists aren’t obligated to do so.

For More Information, Feel Free to Reach Out

At Newrest Funerals, we’re open to all those who require answers. Understanding the Buddhist teaching about life and death lies at the core of our knowledge. If our insight is required, we’ll be at your disposal.