When we experience loss, we experience grief. It is a natural process that affects us all. Whatever race, color or creed, we are all effected when we lose someone or something dear to us. While grief is a universal feeling that transcends cultures, the way we deal with the emotion can vary depending on where you live. Different cultures have different approaches to handling loss and grief.
In the U.S. and Western European countries, while we remember those we have lost, we tend to need to move on and resume our normal lives and routines. We may detach ourselves from the emotional ties we once felt toward those we have lost. In Hispanic cultures however the deceased are celebrated long after their death and they encourage remembrance and emotional ties. Other cultures vary in how they express their grief; African and Middle Eastern cultures showing public displays of grief and Asian cultures discouraging public displays of emotion.
No matter how we express our grief, the way we feel about the loss of a loved one typically does not vary. There is a process we all experience no matter our culture. Elizabeth Kubler-Ross lays out this process in her Universal Stages of Grief. The stages most of us experience are; denial, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance. Though we can attempt to label the things we feel, grief is a complicated emotion and may not only be limited to these stages. One may also feel; pain, guilt, isolation, reflection or readjustment. And though we may experience them differently, most of us, no matter our culture, may experience some or all of these stages after loss.
Just as the type of grieving may vary, as does the type of loss that may cause us to grieve. There are many types of loss that can cause us to grieve and they are not merely limited to death. We can also experience grief after the loss of a job, a home, some aspect of our health or our current financial status.
It’s important to remember that while the stages of grief and approaches to emotion can be generalized according to culture, everyone is different and loss is a poignant emotion that will cause us all to react differently. The grieving process is a very personal progression in which many grieve in many different ways.