Skip to content

Grief across cultures-Brittany Hushion

October 19, 2012

Grief can be described as a “Subjective state, a set of feelings that arise spontaneously after a significant death” (Klass, Dennis). Across all cultures grief is experienced when someone losses a family member, close friend, or confidant. It can be said that grief is a human emotion that is experienced on the biological level and it can “Be conceived as an instinctual response, shaped by evolutionary development” (Klass, Dennis). Therefore grieving is an instinctive behavior that all human beings face at some point in their lives.

            Though every culture faces grief, there are cultural values and customs that make the emotions and behaviors following grief acceptable. In America after a family member dies it is common to hold a funeral in honor of the dead person’s life. It is normal to have feelings of sadness and even show emotion by crying but if a person is uncontrollably crying and depressed for a long period of time, it is common to think that they are not grieving in a “healthy” way. In some cases they will be put of anti-depressants and be advised to talk to a psychologist about the feelings they are experiencing after the loss of their loved one. At the same time if the individual is not expressing emotion or feelings of sadness, many may think that they are not coming to terms with reality and this also is not considered “healthy”. Different emotions following grief are accepted in all different cultures. For example, “Anthropologist Unni Wikan compared the rules in Egypt and Bali, both Islamic cultures. She found that in Bali, women were strongly discouraged from crying, while in Egypt women were considered abnormal if they did not incapacitate themselves in demonstrative weeping” (Klass, Dennis). When comparing these countries with America you can see how different all of their accepted responses to grief can be.  Another example of how different grief can be is seen in China. “In traditional China, women wailed laments but men sat silently” (Klass, Dennis). In all four of these countries what is acceptable to their cultural customs may be taken as unhealthy actions in another.

            From the examples listed above uncontrollable weeping in Egypt would not be accepted in Bali or America. If an individual par takes in such behavior, some may think that they are suffering from a mental illness that requires medication to correct their mental “imbalance”. It is evident that grief is an instinctual human behavior and every culture will faces it. But how those cultures allow their members to deal with their grief is different all around the world.

Read more: Grief and Mourning in Cross-Cultural Perspective – rituals, world, body, funeral, life, customs, history, beliefs, time, person

Brittany Hushion

One Comment leave one →
  1. October 19, 2012 5:52 pm

    This idea is very interesting to me because of the idea that cultures determine how people are supposed to feel and react to things like grief, and how severely their emotions should be portrayed. It was said in this post that grief is an instinctual feeling, so why are there rules put on people for how they are instinctively supposed to react to something. If someone wants to uncontrollably weep for the loss of a loved one, let them do it, don’t look down upon them for it. Just another example of cultures putting pressure on the members of it’s society to act a certain way to fit in and be “normal.”
    Savannah Knowles

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: