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September 8, 2006

The Taboo on Grief and the Filipino Culture

butterflyA few days ago , a friend ( a member of The Compassionate Friends) and myself agreed to have an interview with Sociology students from the University of the Philippines Diliman . They are currently taking the course Sociology 182 on Qualitative Research Methods. As part of their requirements, they were tasked to accomplish a research paper with a topic of their interest. They chose the topic, “Death and Dying: The Experiences of a Mother at the Sudden Death of her Child“. That’s not a usual topic that students might choose and I was pleased at their choice. Five of us at the Compassionate Friends agreed to help out with their paper. I learned that two members of INA Foundation also participated .

What surprised me is that their professor discouraged them at the choice of their topic. In fact, they were told to drop this topic and choose another one. The professor said that they will not be able to get mothers to talk about their [tag]grief[/tag]. She added that grief is a private matter. But these girls defended their topic and believed that they will be able to get the cooperation of bereaved mothers. True enough, they got the interviews from members of INA Foundation and The Compassionate Friends. In fact they got more mothers than they initially planned.

Unfortunately, we still live in a world where grief is a taboo topic. People who don’t outwardly show grief are said to be ‘strong’ and ‘brave’ while those who show and express feelings are spoken of in derogatory terms such as ‘falling apart’ and ‘going to pieces’ or ‘breaking down’ etc. “She’s not moving on”…In reality the latter are the strong ones, as they don’t care what people think of them when they are responding to grief in a way that is right for them, (crying or being angry etc.) It takes courage to show our emotional pain in public.

Why was it not difficult to talk about our grief? [tag]Bereaved mothers[/tag] (or even fathers) need to talk about the child they have lost. It not only gives us something to do with the energy of grief, but also establishes the continuity of memory and spirit of one who was so much a part of our lives.

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