Although death is universal the expression of grief varies greatly between different cultures and religions. It is important to acknowledge how this shapes an individual’s perception and experience of death. Cultural and religious beliefs help people cope with and express their grief, providing a sense of structure and routine at a chaotic and confusing time. When supporting a bereaved person or family, it is helpful to ensure you have an understanding of their particular customs and funeral rites. If you are unsure whether a bereaved individual has any religious or cultural beliefs that may affect their process, funeral arrangements or mourning, it is always best to ask rather than evade the questions.

Factors to consider

How a person grieves is unique to the mourner, but will often be informed by things such as:

  • Age – Different cultures grieve differently depending on the deceased’s age and stage of life
  • Children – Similarly different cultures have varying customs about whether children should be included in the mourning and grieving customs
  • Gender – The roles that men and women play in grieving can differ in different cultures and religions
  • Behaviour – Public displays of grief and expected in certain cultures and frowned upon in others
  • Partners – How widows and widowers are expected to behave can be culturally different, from how to dress through to remarriage
  • Memorial – Different religions and cultures will vary in how anniversaries and relevant dates are recognised, celebrated, respected and marked

The Grief Encounter helpline, grieftalk can be contacted from 9am-9pm Monday-Friday. The grieftalk helpline number is 0808 802 0111, or you can chat online or even email us now, we are here to listen.