Cultural Diversity - respecting the beliefs of each patient & family

Grief and death are expressed in many different ways around the world. An understanding of these rituals and belief systems are respected in during End of Life and by hospice agencies.

Here are some of the cultural rituals and beliefs:

• White is the color of mourning in China.

• In Korea, where cremation is becoming commonplace nowadays, there is a trend to have the ashes of a loved one refined and turned into colorful beads.

• In the Hindu faith, it is preferable to die at home, surrounded by family. The soul is believed to go on, according to one’s karma. Bodies are cremated quickly, usually within 24 hours, in order to liberate the soul quickly.

• Muslims bury their dead, rather than cremate them, in the belief that there will be a physical resurrection on the Day of Judgment.

Different cultures and ethnic groups express grief and bereavement differently:

• Bali women may be strongly discouraged from crying

• Egypt women are considered abnormal if they don’t nearly incapacitate themselves with demonstrative weeping.

• In Japan, it is extremely important not to show one’s grief for a number of reasons. Death should be seen as a time of liberation and not sorrow, and one should bear up under misfortune with strength and acceptance. One never does anything to make someone else uncomfortable.

• In Latino cultures, it may be appropriate for women to wail, but men are not expected to show overt emotion due to “machismo.”

• In China, hiring professional wailers may be customary in funerals, which may sound odd, but this was also a common practice in Victorian England

Religious beliefs are different at End of Life as well. The next blog post will give different examples.

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