Society and grief

John (left) and big bro

John (left) and big bro

This week, friend of Fling, John Birrell shares news of an important event in November that will focus on society and grief…

For the past 20 years I’ve been fascinated by the psychology of grief.  I have read, discussed and studied how it affects us, why the emotions are the way they are, how we grieve and the journey we travel towards some form of “recovery”.

But today I am excited by an up-coming conference which will look, not at psychology but at sociology.

Society and grief

You see, dying, death and bereavement don’t occur in a vacuum. While the emotions are strong, and the need to understand the processes is clearly important, the way we actually experience those emotions, and the way we react to them, depends in large part on who we are and what goes on around us.  If I was being clever, I could say the social and cultural context within which the bereavement occurs has a significant influence on how we grieve.

We only need to think about the shared grief in the crowds we have seen recently around the deaths of people in the bombings in France and Belgium, or in our own country to think back to widely shared grief at the death of Princess Diana, to see how culture and society contribute to grieving.

It is these aspects which will be the theme of a unique conference in Glasgow on 5 November when a number of world leaders in bereavement come together to share ideas on the Social and Cultural Aspects of Grief.

The conference will include:

  • A debate between Robert Neimeyer, Memphis, and Neil Thompson, Wales, on the benefits and differences of the psychological and the sociological approaches.
  • Keynotes from
  • Darcy Harris, Ontario, on social justice issues around bereavement,.
  • David Clark, Glasgow, comparing themes from an international study of end of life issues
  • Kenneth Doka, New York, looking at demographic and cultural issues and asking what sociology adds to the study of death dying and bereavement
  • A choice of stimulating interactive workshops looking at topics such as funerals, bereaved children, community resilience and the role of volunteering.

This promises to be a really interesting day for anyone interested in bereavement and loss, society and grief.

Full details of the event, including how to register, see the IWG website.




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