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Meaning Making and Death in a Secular Society: A Dutch Survey Study

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This article focuses on the relation between death and religion in a secularized society. In the Netherlands, traditional religious membership has declined significantly together with traditional belief systems. This study investigates the relation between the experience of death and religious affiliation (unaffiliated, Catholic, and Protestant) in relation to meaning making. Parts of a nationwide survey study (n = 1212) are analyzed in order to investigate different forms of meaning making (Christian meaning, personal meaning, and denial of meaning). The results show that the experience of the death of a loved one is related to personal meaning giving only for Protestant participants. Moreover, religiously unaffiliated, Catholics and Protestants differ significantly in different ways of meaning making. In the discussions the authors focus on the different effects of different religious groups in the context of secular society.

Affiliations: 1: Radboud University Nijmegen The Netherlands, Email:; 2: University of Amsterdam The Netherlands; 3: Radboud University Nijmegen The Netherlands


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