Death and beyond

Thoughts and preparations for the final journey



afterlife, metaphysical imagination, ritual, funerals, death


Based on extensive ethnography, this article investigates how contemporary Finnish hospice patients talk – or remain silent – about their own approaching death, and the imageries relating to death and the possible afterlife. I explore how the thought of an afterlife may have informed patients’ orientations at the end of life, and how it touched on actual funeral arrangements.

Since death was a very difficult topic to speak about, the dying created other kinds of material or entirely fantastic imageries which helped them to explore and express their feelings about death and the beyond. Drawing on the theoretical concepts of ‘metaphysical imagination’ (Hepburn 1996) and ‘virtuality’ (Deleuze and Guattari 2016; Kapferer 2004, 2006, 2010), this article shows how the virtual space of the metaphysical imageries by the research participants at times became a vital element empowering the dying, not only to encounter their situation but also to achieve resolution of some sort.

How to Cite

Butters, M. (2023). Death and beyond: Thoughts and preparations for the final journey. Approaching Religion, 13(1), 5–20.