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Attitudes Towards Death and Bereavement

Cultural Attitudes Towards Dying , Death, and Bereavement
Marla Lendor
Sociology 304
Rhonda Travland
April 14, 2012

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Cultural Differences towards Dying, Death, and Bereavement
This paper will describe cultural differences towards dying, death, and bereavement. Death is a very sad subject in the U.S., but this is not true in many other cultures. Places like Bosnia and Africa where violence is so prevalent and brutal fatalities are a daily occurrence, they don??™t see death as we do. Death in some country is considered a badge of honor when one gives their life for their country. Human emotions is a cultural universe between all cultures and but not all cultures mourn or fear death in the same way as those in the west. In fact in some countries death is so wide spread that the people there pretty much expect these deaths to occur because so many are dying around them.
Citizens of some cultures give their life freely for their country and many of them have known their whole lives that they may someday have to do so. Children are often used as bait because the culture knows that Americans can be easily tricked by the face of an innocent child. (Aiken, L ( 2011) These people don??™t fear death because they are raised in a culture that teaches them not to. Also they have become so used to seeing death that they don??™t see it as an unusual thing. When it comes to bereavement in these cultures, yes they miss their love ones as any other culture would, but they don??™t focus on the loss, but on the victory.
When it comes to dying, death and bereavement across the globe, opinions can vary greatly. In my opinion, it is only in the west that people really fear death and I think it is because of our lavish living, we are afraid to leave it and we fear the beyond because we really know little about it. Its fear of the unknown verses a familiar lifestyle.
Some cultural celebrate death, not because they want their love ones to die, but because death symbolizes something greater. For instance, unlike the west, some citizens of other cultures sacrifice themselves as suicide bombers and are proud to give their life for their country. In some of these cultures it is a common practice to sacrifice children in times of war and no body sheds any tears for these children, if is simply part of that culture. In some countries if a woman??™s husband dies, she must throw herself on a fire and take her own life so that her soul can be with her husband. With this type of ritual, it is clear that these countries do not think a whole lot of death and dying and bereavement are handled far different.
Jewish people take death extremely seriously and have several rituals that they do when someone dies. One of those rituals is that they cover all the mirrors. This is so that during this time of mourning they avoid vanity and focus on the person that has died. They give the dead a lot of respect in this culture. They also don??™t emblem bodies as we do in the west. Enkin, Ari (2000) in New Orleans they also cover mirrors but for a different reason. In this culture they believe that reflections invite death, therefore mirrors have to be veiled after someone dies to avoid more deaths.
In conclusion, dying, death, and bereavement vary quite differently depending on the culture. These things have a strong presence in all cultures, because death is inevitable; however the ideals and rituals surrounding death in this culture can be worlds apart. Bereavement is the final tribute that we pay to someone that has died, but the way that this is carried out may also vary by culture. Whatever thoughts, concepts or ideals one may have on this drab subject, one thing is certain, death is a very private thing and at some point all must experience it.

References
Aiken, Lewis (2011) Dying, Death, and Bereavement
Enkin, Ari (2000) Understanding Dying, Death, and Bereavement
Mallon, Brenda ( 2009) Dying, Death, and Grief: Working with Adult Bereavement

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