Does Culture Dictate the Grieving Process

Grieving and mourning is complete when you can move past the sorrow and observe death as an inherent element of life. We never totally move past the sorrow of death, therefore we never totally stop grieving and mourning the loss of a loved one. However, celebrating life can be jubilant, and at the same time, healing to the soul. There are many ways to celebrate and honor the life of a deceased. Furthermore, different cultures celebrate the life of, grieve the loss of and mourn for those they’ve loved in different ways, according to the culture’s rituals, customs, beliefs, values and traditions. Some cultures view death as part of the normal cycle of life, whereas some cultures celebrate the life of the deceased and some fear death.

People of the Jewish culture view death as an inevitable part of life. A dignified, reverence is bestowed upon the deceased to emulate the same respect they had been given in life. Jewish funerals and burials are very private and simple, and the mourning period kept very personal with the exception of an outward display of grief, typically indicated by wearing a special ribbon. After the funeral and burial, Shiva continues for several days at the home of the deceased. The deceased is honored during Shiva while the family refrains from many everyday activities.

Buddhists believe there is no need to fear death. Death is merely a part of the cycle of life. It is believed when a person is dying, as their mind and body deteriorates, they gain a higher consciousness then karma determines the deceased’s future life. The length of the mourning period depends on the strength of the relationship between the family and the deceased. The Buddhist observance of death is minimal, much the same way they live their lives.

The Mexican heritages cherish their deceased and celebrate Day of the Dead. Death was considered passage to a new life, so it was celebrated. The deceased is buried with many personal objects that would be needed in their new life. The Day of the Dead celebration is held Every November 1st. Families save their money to purchase special gifts the deceased’s family member would have enjoyed. The celebrations and picnics are held in graveyards or wherever their loved ones are buried.

Every culture has their own particular way of explaining the purpose of life and what a person should expect after they die. Based on a culture’s beliefs, the people within a culture developed customs and rituals to either celebrate the life of the deceased or to aid and comfort the people within the culture during the grieving and mourning process. Although the rituals and customs offer structure and direction while the group within the culture copes with the loss of a loved one, we must always remember, each individual within a culture grieves and mourns differently in unpredictable and very personal ways.