Practical bereavement

Bachelor, Philip
December 2007
Health Sociology Review;Dec2007, Vol. 16 Issue 5, p405
Academic Journal
It is well recognised that bereavement deals a significant impact on all individuals and societies, and yearning to be with a recent decedent is a common and almost universal grief response. How we strive to mitigate our loss by maintaining a sense of being in the presence of our loved one is not so well appreciated, yet this elicits perhaps the most evident and popular practical response among the recently bereaved. Although over thirty-three million visits are made to Australian cemeteries each year, understanding this behaviour and meeting the real needs of these visitors have attracted little consideration, even among those responsible for managing and providing such facilities. This paper draws on the author's twenty-four years' experience in the operation of small and large, provincial and urban cemeteries, and national sociological field research into personal and social values of the cemetery or memorial park. Quantitative studies involving over 3,000 cemetery visitors throughout Australia furnished vital generalisations, and complementary in-depth qualitative investigation of over two dozen cases identified personal values of visitation to mourners within different social and cultural contexts. This paper presents a summary of key findings. To literally millions of recently bereaved Australians the cemetery provides a vital focal point for remembrance of the deceased, with the grave or memorial site becoming a crucial locus for working through personal grief.


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