The written assignment should be written in paragraph form.
This exercise focuses on the various contexts and developmental domains of grief.
Grief is a multidimensional emotion, blending sadness, worry, even anger, in proportions that seem to vary from one culture to another. More obvious, how it is expressed also varies from culture to culture. For example, one study reported that mourners in 72 out of 73 sample cultures considered crying to be part of the accepted ritual (Rosenblatt, Walsh, & Jackson, 1976). Balinese mourners, however, avoid crying—not only while grieving but in other "emotional" situations as well. Rather, they tend to suppress their crying by smiling, joking, or expressing some other incompatible behavior. As a less common example, mourners in several cultures pull their hair, scratch their faces, or perform other self-injurious behaviors.
Another aspect of grieving that varies from culture to culture concerns the length of the grief period. Many cultures include formal rituals marking the end of bereavement. In the United States, however, grieving can be prolonged. Even funerals—clearly a formal ritual—are likely to mark the beginning of grieving rather than the end. As noted earlier in the text, "rites of passage" such as this generally make difficult transitions easier to bear.
Despite these cultural variations, however, people throughout the world express some form of grief when a loved one dies. This suggests that the capacity for grief is universal and presumably based, at least partly, on our shared biological makeup. Moreover, grieving also seems to occur among some animal species, including chimpanzees, who have been observed to sit in a circle around the dead body of a troop member, staring at the corpse and making wailing sounds.
Like many social behaviors, grieving is associated with a number of widely held beliefs about what is "normal." The available research evidence, however, offers little support for any of the following popular beliefs, suggesting instead that they are simply myths.
Grieving follows a predictable time course. Although people vary in how long a period of grieving is considered acceptable, most agree that it decreases over time, typically within one year. Mourners must "work through" their losses through focused concentration on their emotions. Intense emotional distress is inevitable following the loss of a loved one, and is necessary to a healthy adjustment.
Death and Dying
Use the above information, along with the text discussion of grief, to provide answers to the following questions.
1. Identify several biological, cognitive, and sociocultural influences on grief.
2. Give an example of how grieving is influenced by the various contexts of development.
3. Assuming that the capacity for grief is grounded in evolutionary history, how might grief be adaptive for our species?
4. What are some of the possible implications of the absence of a formal ritual to end grieving in a culture?
Death and Dying
5. What are some of the practical implications of the myths about grieving listed earlier?
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