Discussion responses #1: Similarities and Differences of Funerals

Discussion responses #1: Similarities and Differences of Funerals
Nada F.

Dr. Pieri and Classmates,

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The particular thing that has stood out to be about the funeral home in Harlem is their attachment to the loved ones that have died. In my experience, death is a somber experience that requires a great deal of resolve to be a part of that experience. I have witnessed crying and weeping, sometimes wailing in pure grieve. The African-American’s funeral was more focused on respecting the living than the dead. They present the dead with a ‘plastic’ perception that does not do anything for the ones that have died since they cannot witness their funeral procession. Though, it helps the loved ones to overcome grieve and sense of loss when their family members are shown to them being in an eternally sleeping state rather than being reminded of the fact that they will soon become part of the dirt.

The clothes were another fact that was very striking. They wore dresses that were more appropriate for celebratory functions rather than the funerals that I have visited. This explains their way of celebrating the life of the ones that have died than their deaths. Their clothes are beautiful, elegant, and tasteful. It represents a person’s life. In my experience with funerals, they tend to be more serious and filled with a reminder of death. It is still a procession for the dead but it is more towards the remembrance of death. African-Americans tend to have large funerals. They usually have choirs singing, speakers and some dances. It is a time to worship the departed and also celebrate their life.

It is not uncommon to attend a funeral service for someone of a different faith (Frazer Consultants, 2016).

Christian funerals can usually occur within three to five days after a death. Cremation and burials are both acceptable depending on the deceased’s wishes.

Catholic funeral mass will usually take place in a church. A vigil of the deceased or wake is always held the night before the funeral mass.

Jewish funerals can take place at a funeral chapel or right at the burial site. Services will take place as soon as possible,

Muslim funerals are similar to a Jewish funeral. Embalming and cremation are not allowed. When someone dies the body must be buried within 24 hours.

Buddhism, like Christianity, has several denominations. Each has its own approach to funeral rites. Embalming and Cremation are acceptable. However, food is not acceptable.

Hindu funerals, cremate the body. The ashes may by the family, or spread in holy water in India. Wearing black is considered inappropriate at a funeral — white is the preferred color (Frazer Consultants, 2016).

Growing up in a funeral home I saw many, many families attend the funeral of their loved ones. It was always a beautiful momentum but sad as well. The joy of families being together and sending their departed ones to the beyond was overwhelming for me as a child. I never wanted to attend another funeral in my life. Seeing these people smiling and then sad, I didn’t understand the aspect of death. I also didn’t understand why the bodies would just lie there and not get up. Why were people crying and some smiling? That can be confusing for an eight-year-old child. My parents explained it to all seven of their children.

I finally realized the significance of a funeral. I still did not like attending them. I know this is a part of life and I have accepted it. Even though, as I have mentioned before in my family we do not have funerals, we are cremated and then have memorials to celebrate that loved one’s life. We all wear white. This is a symbol of celebration. Different cultures have different rituals they go through. It is very interesting knowing how other cultures celebrate the lives of their loved ones. Therefore, respect for the body is important among all religions (Frazer Consultants, 2016).


Retrieved from: https://www.pbs.org/video/-homegoings-going-home/

Frazer Consultants. (2016). Different Funeral Traits of Different Faiths. Retrieved from: https://frazerconsultants.com/2016/07/08/different-funeral-traits-of-different-faiths/

Arlette R.

In the video, all of the funeral goers were wearing white. There was not anything inherently depressing about the experience. In fact, even the name the homecoming ceremony makes sure to denote it as this is the temporary place and that the person who died is simply going back to where they belong(PBS,2013). People speak of celebrating a persons life when it ends but it is inherently sad as people cry and feel the sadness of the loss. That is not the case with the African American homegoing. There is a distinctive celebration of life, where people can and do share funny and interesting stories about the deceased. In truth it is as though, they are grateful for the time they spent with her but acknowledge that the time with her is done and that that is ok.

This writer is Persian-American with a half-Cuban half brother, as such I have seen some very different funeral procedures. In the Persian tradition, talking and sharing emotions is in a way taboo. So at a funeral it may be the only oppurtunity someone has to be sad and talk about it but being stoic is rewarded. When this writer was 11 her cousin died of kidney failure, a young woman of about 28 who had her whole life ahead of her and a fiance who loved her. Ultimately, she had a heart attack after her transplant and died. Her father did not take it well. While at the cemetary, a eulogy being read by the clergy, her father jumped in the hole and grabbed her white sheet wrapped body, He wailed and screamed at the loss of his child because has not ready to release her. In terms of death the younger the deceased, the harder it is for others because of the shock value of the entire scenario. Parents are supposed to outlive their kids and when they do not it can be increasingly difficult. In contrast, most of the immediate family members who died that the writer had close contact with died of cancer. In the Persian Bahai culture or maybe it is just this writers family, there are vigils and parties set up nightly as we camp out near the person dying and basically pray and talk about the person. Deep conversations are had and the family just chooses to be with each other nightly until the person passes. The entire extended family appears and dinner is had by everyone and they just support each other, crying should still be done in private with only one to two people or should be as quiet as possible so as to not offend or potentially trigger others.

In contrast, at the yearly funeral for the death of Mohammad and Ali respectively in the Shia Muslim faith, everyone is happy and enjoying each other and then at 9 pm which is the time the former was stabbed the lights go off so you cant see each other and people begin to waitl beat the floor and their chests for a religious figure that died centuries ago.

This writer has also been to a American funeral and a Cuban funeral, the latter was for this writers half brothers grandpa. It was relaxed but still involved some sadness. A lot of Cuban coffee and snacks/pastelitos, the grieving family stayed all day and everyone else just came in as they could to visit with the family and peek into the coffin to say their good byes. When a member of the immediate family cried they took one person they trusted and removed themselves until they felt composed enough to return. The American funeral was very different, firstly the deceased was 19 years of age and had been hit by a car. But this writer grieved publicly but it was obvious the others were uncomfortable.

It would appear that in all these various cultural experiences of death, humans are uncomfortable with heavy emotions shared in front of a large crowd of mourners. Even in the case of the Shia rituals, the lights are turned off so that that people lose their self consciousness and can fully experience a cathartic release. None of these rituals and funerary concepts really align with the homegoing. Accept maybe the Bahai vigils, pre death, a family supporting each other and communicating and attempting to laugh and enjoy each other despite the death of a loved one looming over them.


PBS. (2013, June 24). Homegoings: Going Home [Video]. PBS.Org. https://www.pbs.org/video/pov-homegoings-going-home/

Discussion responses # 2:

Dorothy P

This writer finds the whole idea of the Assumptive Idea interesting. The individual’s assumptive ideas begin before an individual can even talk or understand the word from others. It’s the idea that beginning with Erikson’s theory of Trust vs Mistrust all the way through a lifetime there is the assumptive idea of how things are. These assumptive ideas come from life experience. This writer has seen so much that nothing surprises her. She considers herself a believer in the Lord but can not bring herself to go back to church because of the negative experiences she has had in the past. It is her Assumptive Idea that she can’t trust too many because of her past, another assumptive idea. She has focused her energy and friendships on her clients and their families to feel needy and satisfied.

Loss and caring for the chronically ill is a time for growth. Being a CNA and dealing with the chronically ill, as well as the death and loss has taught her to be thankful for the little things and concentrate on what you have not what you don’t have. And ALWAYs let your loved ones know you’re here and you love them regardless of the relationship status. This is because you never know when they won’t be there anymore.

The writer also finds the idea of isolation interesting. She agrees isolation is a fear of loss as well as the fear of acceptance of the finality of the deceased. You go out and it becomes real. When I loose a client I try and focus on the next one who I can help have a better quality of life. However, its different with a loved one. You can’t just replace your father or husband, or even your son or daughter. When the writer’s clients have passed, she always made herself available to their family. She listened and waited for them to reveal what it is she could do to help. Sometimes it was just listening they needed. It is the therapists/friends/families job to listen and just be there dependably and help them process in their way.

Howard R. Winokuer, P., & Darcy L. Harris, P. F. (2012). Principles and Practice of Grief Counseling. Springer Publishing Company.

Arlette R


Dear Professor and class,

This weeks reading on bereavement was very interesting and this writer found that when people are facing mortality and death that spirituality and spiritual beliefs can be changed and can impact a persons life. While noting the spiritual beliefs and ascribing meaning to the situation, it is important to balance the ideas with what is happening in reality and how the person is behaving and what it is that they experience and do during the bereavement period. One interesting fact is the potential for reevaluation of beliefs and the way life is life is lived, next is the concept that many people report seeing signs from dead loved ones that provide comfort and this is how the outward appearance of grief can effect how a person behaves during the grieving process(Winokuer &Harris,2012).

It is apparent that there is no one size fits all when it comes to grieving and that each person will deal with it on an individual basis.One such experience that many people feel are a complete over hall of spiritual beliefs(Balk,1999). During the course of bereavement there is fertile ground for an individual to re-evaluate their whole life as they have just experienced a destabilizing event that is not easily dealt with and therefore require outside help to process it(Balk,1999). Losing someone of significance that the individual has a strong attachment to will change the course of a persons life since the life will remain the same but the presence of the person is gone and when you add time to reflect then it is very likely the person will experience transformed faith consciousness(Fowler,1981). This allows life to take on a greater meaning and a deeper understanding of an individuals life and purpose(Fowler,1981). This explains why when a loss occurs as in the case of bereavement then there is fertile ground to experience a spiritual transformation. In addition, many persons will ascribe meaning to signs, dreams, visions, and hallucinations(Winokue&Harris,2012). These experiences commonly cause comfort and occasionally are accompanied by conversations with the deceased. While most of these conversations occur within the mind, some do happen partially aloud. But psychologists are aware it is a normal part of grieving and not part of psychosis but can also be partially to blame when a definitive spiritual transformation occurs after a death(Winokue&Harris,2012).

A third point that is important to acknowledge during the bereavement is the behavioral changes that effect an individual. Although many of these behaviors can be subtle, they are quite common. For example, following the death of someone, an individual will notice that they are constantly searching for them in a crowd (Winokue&Harris,2012). In addition the bereaved individual might start to engage in the hobbies of the deceased, anything that will allow them to still feel close to the individual that they have lost(Winokue&Harris,2012). It is common as well that the individual experiences some disassociation while processing the death(Winokue&Harris,2012).


Balk, D. (1999). Bereavement and spiritual change. Death Studies, 23 , 485–493.

Fowler, J. W. (1981). Stages of faith: The psychology of human development and the quest for meaning . San Francisco, CA: Harper & Row.

Howard R. Winokuer, P., & Darcy L. Harris, P. F. (2012). Principles and Practice of Grief Counseling. Springer Publishing Company.

Discussion Responses # 3 :

Veronica P


Dear Professor and classmates,

According to Stuart-Hamilton (2012), the five stages of the Dying model Kubler-Ross are denial, then anger, bargaining, depression, and the final one is acceptance. This writer has read about her model, and in the future when working with a client that is going through the grief process, one will know how to better assist a client in knowing and understanding each of the five stages. Furthermore, in some of her writings, Kübler-Ross stressed that the stages were only guidelines; she said they do not last for the same length of time in all individuals, and, indeed, people might go through the cycle several times, or show evidence of being in more than one stage simultaneously (Stuart- Hamilton, 2012). This writer believes that the stages of grief and mourning are universal and are experienced by people from all walks of life, across many cultures. Mourning occurs in response to an individual’s own terminal illness, the loss of a close relationship, or to the death of a valued human being, and or an animal. Everyone grieves differently. Some people will wear their emotions on their sleeves and be outwardly emotional. Others will experience their grief more internally, and may not cry. Kuehn, P. D., (2013) explains that even though death is a common experience affecting all people from cultures all over the world, the perception of death, subsequent response, and the meaning made of that death varies strongly depending on one’s particular culture, or lack thereof. Every culture has its own set of beliefs that describe how the world works and people’s roles in the world. In societies in which most people share the same religion, religious beliefs significantly shape the culture. Each culture has its own beliefs about the meaning and purpose of life and what happens after death. This informs how people in those cultures approach death. For example, people may find death more bearable if they believe in life after death. In some cultures, people believe that the spirit of someone who has died directly influences the living family members. The family members are comforted by the belief that their loved one is watching over them. In general, beliefs about the meaning of death help people make sense of it and cope with its mystery. This writer appreciated the video clip where the African American funeral was a livelier funeral and they wore white. For many in the African American community, funeral services and expressions of mourning contain a theme of celebration, rather than the somber emotions associated with death in other cultural settings. This writer appreciated that in the African American funeral services family members, close friends, and even acquaintances are expected to attend the service and in some cases, the service may even be postponed to ensure that everyone can be there. In the writer’s opinion, celebrating their life seems to foster more positive energy around a very sad circumstance. There is no correct way to grieve. Mourning rituals that are normal to one culture may seem strange to another. It may be difficult to know how to be sensitive to a grieving person from a different cultural background, therefore, as a professional in mental health, it is important to learn about the different cultures and rituals so that one can better understand and guide a client that is grieving.


Kuehn, P. D., (2013). Cultural Coping Strategies and their Connection to Grief Therapy Modalities for Children: An Investigation into Current Knowledge and Practice. Retrieved from Sophia, the St. Catherine University repository website: https://sophia.stkate.edu/msw

Stuart-Hamilton, I. (2012). Psychology of Ageing: An Introduction. London: Jessica Kingsley Publisher.

Nada F

Dr. Pieri and Classmates,

Elisabeth Kübler-Ross’s principle of five phases of bereavement was first presented and discussed in her groundbreaking thesis On Death and Dying (1969). There are five emotional stages defined by her, they included- denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. She also reflected on the helpfulness of understanding these stages of going through grieve.

Not everybody is going to encounter these five levels, and you might not be going through all of them in this sequence. Grieving is distinct for any individual, then you may start to cope over losses also at the bargaining stage and then find oneself in frustration or denial (Knight, Carolyn & Gitterman, 2014). You can stay in one of the five stages for months but miss the others altogether.

Denial is the process in which a person rejects the idea of their loss. In this period they will get more time in absorbing the death of their loved one. Then comes anger, a person becomes overwhelmed with intense frustration. Bargaining comes with having an inner struggle and blaming oneself for it. Depression is the silent state where the person feels various emotions at once and becomes confused. It is also the most complicated state since people tend to overcome with great anxiety in this stage (Knight et al., 2014). For example, a person who is dealing with the death of the loved one cannot accept their own existing without the person that has died. Acceptance comes with lifting the burden of grief from a person’s mind. The Kübler-Ross model is soothing specifically since it provides a clear, comprehensible order on the rather chaotic and daunting nature of grief.

For example, Wordsworth’s ‘Surprised by Joy’ is likewise enlightened by an appreciation of the nature of its writing. The writer just lost his three-year-old daughter, and the crushing remorse that unexpectedly seized him, after a brief glimpse of relief, there is no denying that most have lived through emotions of hope and optimism throughout the wake of the loss of loved ones one. In this way, every culture has a different way of dealing with the loss. Some celebrate the life of the ones that have died while others remember their death to make sense of their loss.

The “five stages” model quickly became well known to many professionals and to the general public. It is also recognized by ordinary people and seems to appear today in many forms of professional education and practice (Corr, 2020).


Corr, C. A. (2020). Elisabeth Kübler-Ross and the “Five Stages” Model in a Sampling of Recent American Textbooks. Omega: Journal of Death & Dying, 82(2), 294–322. https://doi-org.postu.idm.oclc.org/10.1177/0030222818809766

Knight, Carolyn & Gitterman, Alex. (2014). Group Work with Bereaved Individuals: The Power of Mutual Aid. Soc Work. 59. 5-12. 10.1093/sw/swt050.

Wordsworth, W. (1815). Surprised by Joy.

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