Can Rituals Help Us Deal With Grief?

It's safe to say that grief is universal.

Everybody experiences loss, whether it's the loss of a loved one, the ending of a romantic relationship,  or any sort of a serious setback in life.   The process of dealing wiith that grief often involves mourning "rituals" that vary across different times and cultures.   Funeral customs can be vary widely for people of different religions.   For Jewish mourners for example, along with the elaborate funeral customs associated with a death, mourners are also expected to tear a garment and, in the case of certain forms of Judaism, for men to be forbidden to shave their beards.   On the other hand, Hindu males mourning a loss are expected to shave their heads and beards as part of the mourning ritual.   

How mourners respond emotionally to a death can also be carefully controlled by mourning rituals.  Crying during funerals is considered disruptive by Tibetan Buddhists while other cultures, including Latino Catholics, consider crying to be a sign of respect.  Rituals can also vary depending on whether you are a man or a woman.   For example, crying at a funeral is considered to be more acceptable for women than for men overall.   Male mourners are often expected to be more stoic in dealing with their loss.   But mourning doesn't just happen with the loss of a loved one. 

To read more, check out my new Psychology Today blog post.


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