chapter  11
18 Pages

Ritual in the Changing Lives of the Very Old

In this first of two concluding chapters we focus on what we have learned from our interviews about the role of ritual in older people’s lives in Eastern and Western Europe. We re-iterate a number of the points that have been made in previous chapters, for example about the formative influence of early life experience, especially within the family, about persons’ capacity to resist external influences during adulthood, and about the continuing importance of ritual in later life. Indeed there is evidence that ritual practice, and especially private prayer, may become a more significant part of people’s lives as they become very old, and we begin this chapter by reviewing the oldest and frailest persons in our sample.