Dealing With Bereavement As An African American

1572 words - 7 pages

One of the most famous statements made by Buddha is, “life is suffering.” What this implies is that simply by living one will experience some type of suffering. The death of a loved one or bereavement is one way in which humans suffer in their life. The following will discuss the topic of bereavement. More specifically culturally sensitive bereavement focusing on the African American population. A comprehensive literature review with culturally relevant information, the Diagnostic and Statistical manual V changes regarding bereavement, potential issues and symptoms, and forms of treatment will be discussed.
Literature Review
Considering that bereavement is something faced by all people ...view middle of the document...

This preparation typically includes preparing food and clothing, chanting and singing, and prayer asking for acceptance into the spiritual world. For African Americans death is not simply viewed as the end of life, but rather as the beginning of a new type of life (Schoulte, 2011). Not only does the perception of the death itself differ for African Americans, but as do the behaviors associated with events that take place after death, such as the funeral. As noted in the Encyclopedia of Multicultural Psychology there exists culture-bound syndromes, such as Falling Out. Falling Out is a syndrome that occurs more commonly among African Americans and similar cultures than other cultures. Specifically, estimates indicate a prevalence of 23% of Bahamian and 10% of African American households report knowing someone who has experienced Fall Out. Fall Out is defined as a constricted consciousness designed to cope with anxiety or anger. It is noted by dizziness, temporary vision lose with no physical indicators of impairment, and an inability to move. Fall Out typically occurs during religious services or ceremonies such as those held for the departed (Jackson, 2006).
A study by Laurie and Niemeyer illustrates that African Americans endure more unexpected loses than their counterparts. These unexpected loses often come by way of homicide or accidents. Laurie and Niemeyer also found in their study that African Americans rely more heavily on others for support during difficult times. One interesting aspect of this support is that African Americans report higher levels of cohesiveness with extended family and in turn experience more distress at an extended family member’s death than Caucasian participants used in this study. Furthermore the bond between African American survivors and their deceased is stronger as well. This bond is often supported by celebrations on the day of the deceased birth or death or via feeling the individual’s presence or communicating with them in dreams (Laurie & Niemeyer, 2008).
The question begs, with an understanding of the cultural expectations and behaviors what treatment plans would be acceptable for an African American woman experiencing depressive symptoms after the recent death of her mother? Altmaier dares to answer this question in her article that highlights best practices of grieving individuals. She argues that four items are required when working with grieving clients, empathic presence, gentle conversation, available space, and engaging trust. Therefore regardless of what approach a clinician selects it should encompass these qualities. Empathic presence is the overall listening, accepting, and encouragement of feelings. Gentle conversation avoids negative or harmful statements that indicate that the client should “get over”, “move on” or otherwise remove themselves from their experience. Available space is the act of giving a client time and resources to appropriately experience their loss. While finally,...

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