Culture and Grief

medium_6789125591As human beings, we are molded by a rich interplay between physical, psychological, sociological, behavioural and cultural experience. The impact of culture upon individual experience is of specific interest to nurses as societies become increasingly multicultural. Increases in worldwide mobility, ease of migration, and fertility rates all demand an expanded cultural awareness and the incorporation of transcultural health perspectives in clinical practice. One human experience that occurs universally throughout all cultures is grief.

As nurses attempting to provide culturally safe care to grieving clients we must remember the individualized nature of the grief experience and differences in its manifestations across cultural lines. Developing an understanding of culturally defined mourning rituals, traditions and behavioural expressions of grief also present an essential key, assisting us to move beyond Western assumptions of “normal” reactions or “healthy” ways of coping. With a deepened understanding through cultural assessments, knowledge and an openness to diversity we can move to incorporate cultural practices into our clients’ care. Furthermore, we can help our clients to understand the meaning of their loss, a task crucial to working through grief. As with the overall experience of grief, loss carries with it different meanings from person to person and culture to culture.

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