Multicultural Perspective: Death and Mourning

Essay by tgalvinUniversity, Bachelor's May 2005

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        Death is not perceived the same in every culture. Neither does every culture practice the mourning process identically. Influential factors include religious beliefs as well as other regional or societal ideologies. The cultural pluralism that exists in the United States demands that a multicultural perspective be used when addressing death and mourning issues with clients and their families. It is the responsibility of the social worker to become educated on various religious and societal customs that are present in their community.

        The three most commonly practiced religions in the United States are Christianity, Judaism, and Islam. Each of these major religions views death in its own unique way, as well as practice different rituals regarding burial and mourning. Individuals and families must be approached on a case by case basis, based on their own level of religiosity as well as assimilation in regards to cultural customs. However social workers with a core understanding of a variety of religious customs and cultural influences will be able to draw from a larger knowledge base and there for be able to serve client better.

A starting point in gaining a greater knowledge base is with the aforementioned three most commonly practiced religions in America today.


        Although Christianity is the largest religion in the United States as workers we must not assume that all individuals adhere to all practices. According to Christian beliefs regarding death - "it is not the end but the beginning of a new life with God" (Ganeri 1998 p20). It is a generally held belief that there is life after death (Death and Dying...1995-2005). The concept of heaven and hell also exists within Christian theology. Heaven is considered living a life with God, while Hell is regarded as life without God (Ganeri 1998 p22).

        Traditional rituals followed by mourners...