Throughout history, human societies have practised their own rituals around death. The form they take may vary, but underlying them is often a common theme of providing a coping mechanism for those left behind. Our rituals of the dead honour the departed, yet they also help the living to bear their grief and to keep on going; an essential thing for any society, hence their prevalence around the world.

Our panel includes zoologist and author of ‘Death on Earth’ Jules Howard. He’s joined by Allan Kellehear, whose books include ‘A Social History of Dying’; and Satish Modi, whose book ‘In Love With Death’ makes the case for why we must all come to accept our own passing. Together, they’ll delve into rituals of the dead and discuss the beliefs that underpin them. They’ll also consider how well we might be equipped to confront our mortality now that we’re losing many of our ancient rituals; as we become a more secular society and abandon the comforts religion offers in the face of death, are we denying ourselves something that we fundamentally need?

About The Academic

Allan Kellehear

Professor Allan Kellehear is a medical and public health sociologist with interests in death, dying and end of life care. He received his PhD in sociology from the University of New South Wales in Sydney, Australia and is a Fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences. He has conducted major sociological and social psychological research on the human experience of dying, and has also developed public health models for care of the dying, the bereaved and caregivers.

About The Authors

Jules Howard

Jules Howard is a freelance zoologist, a ‘Guardian’ and BBC nature correspondent and author. His latest book, ‘Death on Earth’, charts death in all its forms. As well as writing and public speaking, Jules also runs a social enterprise that has brought 100,000 young people closer to future careers in zoology, palaeontology and evolutionary science.

Satish Modi

Satish Modi is chairman of Modi Global Enterprises and author of ‘In Love With Death’. He supports a wide range of charities, educational institutions and the arts, and is a key member of Ambassadors for Philanthropy.