“You want to keep the culture in mind, but at the same time you don’t want to assume anything about that student or that family because of the culture that they are coming from.” (Counselor)
This module addresses the role of cultural considerations in supporting children and families in the aftermath of a death. Each culture has its own traditions, rituals, and practices when a family member dies. The overall goal is to bring a general sensitivity to the unique needs of a specific grieving child and their family in the context of their identified culture.
There are real differences between cultures in practices and rituals when a family member dies. However, the fundamental experience of grief is universal. Rather than attempting to gain knowledge about every culture, educators can work toward a general sensitivity about how children and families cope with loss. If you are able to be empathetic, thoughtful, sensitive, and supportive to children in one culture, chances are quite good that you will be able to help children of another culture as well.
Ask questions when you are unsure what would be most helpful for a family or individual (“Can you help me understand how I can best be of help to you and your family?”). Remember, even if you know about the common practices of a culture, this may not predict how a particular person or family in that culture will behave after a death. Many families blend traditions of several cultures.
Most importantly, be present and authentic. Approach the family with an open mind and heart, and be guided by their responses.