Kenya and France - Grief and Loss
DK is one of our students studying the Grief Counselling course. She has written an interesting article on the differences in how two communities respond to death in Kenya and France.
"I live in two societies which have very different attitudes towards death.
There is fear about death, death is not talked about. Death has to be dressed up. As a result, there is an expectation that the bereaved will grieve but not too long and soon will pull him/herself together. Very little time is provided for grieving. Mourning traditions have been lost I believe, which means that society has little knowledge of what a bereaved person is going through, what to expect, how to react, how to support and deal with a person in his/her grief. Consequently, the following happens:
- The bereaved person can find it difficult to open up and may try to hide his/her feelings to appear strong.
- Friends can be uncomfortable, have no tools to support a bereaved person, some will avoid actually being with the person in fear of saying the wrong thing.
- There is pressure for the bereaved person to be strong, whereas sometimes they need to not be strong, this requirement and encouragement may lead the person to hide their grief
- Often people need to find help with professional or organizations rather than in their network.
I have lived in Kenya for the last 20 years. Death is not hidden, death is part of life here, death is not made pretty. People deal with their dead, funerals are not organized by a third party. This makes people more at “ease” with death and the bereaved.
Strong rituals are attached to grieving in different tribes which I could not start to describe. However as there are no other support systems than family and friends, these are incredibly supportive and confident in ways they support a grieving person. There is less pressure for grief to be all done and dusted in 2 weeks. For weeks and months, friends are present, help, show their care, and are not afraid of mentioning the deceased or the situation."
Thank you DK for letting us share this with other students.