Full Text

loss and grief

Subject Psychology

DOI: 10.1111/b.9780631170488.1995.x


Death is never an individual event. Different cultures at different times have endeavoured to explain the significance and the impossibility of accepting death. Rituals have evolved to help the individal, family or community cope with the impact of losing a member, and myths (Ferreira, 1963; Byng-Hall, 1973) can become powerful factors in maintaining the influence of previous generations in the present. Those charged with the responsibilities of helping at the time of death and afterwards - shaman, priest or therapist - vary according to culture and beliefs. Where losses through death are not satisfactorily mourned, the impact on current and future generations can be serious. A systemic perspective and a life-cycle framework are useful in understanding the processes involved and in providing support and healing. Effective ways of helping to understand loss are essential for the current and future mental health of family members, whether the point of contact is with families who are facing the imminent death of a member, have recently lost someone, or have been unable to resolve previous bereavements. How individuals and families adjust and re-adjust to loss is one of the central dilemmas of human life. Only individuals die yet, except in the most exceptional circumstances, every death affects more than the individual. How loss is experienced will, for example, be mediated by gender, ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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