How the Age of the Deceased Affects the Grieving Process.

Anyone who has felt the pangs of losing a loved one knows that the process of grieving cannot be reduced to a period of time, a set of practices and anticipated expressions, or a psychological phenomenon. Out of the myriad factors that contribute to someone’s experience of loss, one of them—the age of the deceased—is especially notable since it impacts the relationship between the bereaved and the deceased in a unique way.  However, the bonds between the deceased and the living, the aspects of their culture, and their ethical perspectives will impact the influence of age on the grieving process.

Many people who examine grief through a scientific and psychological lens agree that interpersonal attachment plays an important role in predicting someone’s response to loss. Some have even compared the process of grieving a loved one, both behaviorally and neurobiologically, to the process of recovering from drug addiction.[1] Seeing this powerful nature of interpersonal attachment shows us the significant impact of the age of the dying individual on the grieving process of the living. Since age influences the relationship between two people, we can begin to understand the nuances between an adult grieving a child versus grieving another adult.

Scientists often reference the continuing bonds theory when investigating how a parent responds after losing a child. [2] Along with the loss of a child often comes a partial loss of the parent’s sense of identity, ability, and family; thus, this particular grieving process is often labeled as the most disorganized. Since parents take on the role of the child’s caregiver, they may feel guilty following the death of their child. Furthermore, many parents have high hopes and make investments in their child’s future, and if the child dies unexpectedly, these hopes die as well.[3] However, the age of the child affects the parent’s attachment to the child, and the parent’s attachment to the child affects the intensity of the parent’s grief.

A parent’s attachment to their child progresses along with their familiarity with the child; in most cases, this corresponds to the child’s age. This idea of investment can first be seen before the child’s birth. Pregnant women likely attribute more personhood to their babies as they advance in their pregnancies, and this involves a high level of investment.[4]  Not only does this investment and sense of hope grow stronger as the child develops, but parents also form memories with their children over the years, making it more difficult to adjust to a life that does not involve parenting.[5] As a result of the dreams that parents have for their children, parents often suffer from psychological problems related to attachment. Parents who have lost children report a wide array of reactions to loss, including feelings of anger, hollowness, and jealousy towards other parents, and even physical symptoms such as insomnia, loss of appetite, and hallucinations that their child is still living.[6]  Regardless of the child’s age, however, comparative studies support the idea that grieving a child tends to be more intense than grieving a spouse or parent. Yet, this is not to say that the loss of an older loved one is not just as difficult—it means that it is different.

Mourning the loss of a child is a devastating process due to the parent’s investments in the child’s future. The premature death of an adult is devastating for the same reason, but viewed from a different angle: when an individual loses a friend, spouse, parent, or mentor, they lose someone who has invested in them. For example, losing a spouse (assuming the marriage is healthy) requires a substantial adjustment because the individual is likely not only losing someone who helps make decisions, pay bills, and potentially raise children, but their best friend also.[7] Some people, after losing their spouse, report feeling abandoned since they must learn how to live without the support of their partner. Others may feel abandoned after the death of their parents, reminiscing on how their guardians provided for them and loved them unconditionally as children.[8] Although the premature death of a loved one often leads the living to feel abandoned, an anticipated death often lengthens the process of grieving by expediting its beginning.

Once an adult reaches age 79, their death is no longer considered premature—meaning that their cause of death is less likely to be quick and more likely to be drawn-out.[9]  While the sudden death of a loved one leads to unexpected pain, some argue that premature death is “kinder” to the living because it abolishes the suffering that results from watching a loved one slowly die. The death of an older individual may lead to a longer grieving process than premature death, since family members and friends of the dying person must cope not only with the suffering of their loved one, but also with the expensive care they must provide. This age difference, while seemingly insignificant, dramatically transforms the way people grieve. However, no matter the age, the attachment principle still applies and influences the intensity of grief.

Attachment in relationships has been a topic of interest among psychologists—specifically, Mary Ainsworth. When applied to the ways people grieve, Ainsworth’s patterns of attachment speak volumes about the importance of relationships in bereavement. Those who had secure attachments to the person who died may be at peace when recalling the loss, while those with anxious-ambivalent or disorganized trauma may have trouble remembering and sorting through past conflicts with the deceased.[10] Others, who had an anxious-avoidant attachment to the deceased, may avoid experiencing emotions related to the loss altogether. These different patterns of attachment explain drastically different reactions to death—why some people may struggle with painful rumination around the deceased, while others may avoid everything associated with their lost loved one.

The process of grieving looks less like a clean, straight line and more like a scribble from a child’s coloring book—regardless of the age of the deceased.  Although we can see nuances between the way people grieve children, adolescents, and adults, the relationship between the bereaved and the deceased is a more important factor in determining what the scribbled line looks like. While grief may vary from person to person, it serves the same purpose: it is “part of the natural healing process that enables individuals, families, and communities to live with the reality of loss while going on with living.”[11] Nevertheless, cultural differences further blur this line and cause age to be an even more significant factor in predicting how people will grieve.

Culture has a large effect on the way that people deal with the grieving process. For example, some Americans would be surprised to find out that not all cultures wear black to funerals as a way to observe the dead. Across cultures, there are even different names for funerals, such as wakes and memorial services. Beliefs about what happens to the body after death such as afterlife and reincarnation depend on culture and more specifically religion. The psychology behind the grieving process is also affected by culture – more so, how the age of the deceased affects this.

A debate in death and dying culture in the United States is about which deaths are seen as “worse” or more “heartbreaking.” A common conception across the nation is that the death of a young child is worse than the death of an elderly person. Each death is distinctive in itself and comes with its own aspects to grieve. With these deaths, different relationships and experiences are lost. The loss of a child is the loss of a future, however, the loss of an elder is the loss of our past. A child’s death is a loss of a teaching opportunity and betterment of the future; whereas an elder’s death is the loss of where one first learned and was pushed to grow.[12] Elders have made the world the success it is now, but children have the chance to better the world. Because of these complexities, the debate continues about which death is considered worse. Due to the utter tragedy of an unfulfilled life, United States citizens generally accept that the loss of a child is worse than the loss of an elder. This is not to take away from the value of either life but to accept that an elder has lived a long life, and an adolescent has not been able to experience or achieve their capabilities. To most Americans, death as the conclusion for a long life is the desired outcome and what is preferred. Children outliving their parents and grandparents is highly favored over the adverse. It is almost as though the United States society creates a gradient of least to most tragic deaths, with elders and youths being at the two extremes, respectively. All death seems horrible, but some are milder than others.

One of the greatest ways that age culturally differs the grieving process in the United States is funerals. Traditionally, a “funeral” was held for anyone, regardless of age, who passed away to memorialize their legacy. In recent generations in the United States, the traditional “funeral” has evolved into more modern options for grieving. As opposed to a “funeral” or “memorial service,” the “celebration of life” has become a more current replacement. “Funerals” are now used for the death of a younger person, who has not fulfilled their full life potential, unlike the “celebrations of life, which are for the elderly, whose “time has come” and who has lived a full life. “Celebrations of life” are replacing funerals by having a positive connotation to ease any of the agony associated with a traditional funeral.[13] This event is a reminder of the sweet times spent with the deceased, often reminiscing on fondest memories and achievements, emphasizing the shift of life to death. Whereas many funerals have religious symbolism, the celebration of life ceremony is solely focused on memories of the deceased, in whatever way they desire. This makes for a more inclusivity that can be molded to each individual person’s last wishes. In order to grant the deceased’s last wishes, pre-planning is essential. Some view this as a going-out party and desire to be celebrated in vast ways, while others want a more relaxed remembrance. However, celebrations of life are not seen as appropriate for people who have not lived a long life. For example, it would be culturally inappropriate for a celebration of life to be held for a 6-month old who tragically died. In this case, a funeral would be seen as more appropriate according to cultural standards in the United States.

“10 Amazing Celebrations of Life (Pictures).” FuneralOne Blog. April 19, 2013. Accessed April 09, 2019. https://blog.funeralone.com/funeralone-products/life-tributes/10-amazing-celebrations-of-life-pictures/.

 

 


The images above show the difference between a funeral and a celebration of life, respectively. The colors and posture of the people are indicative of the difference in moods between the two.

 

There are problems with the celebration of life and funeral that point to deeper-rooted problems in United States society. Although the celebration of life ceremony is lively and joyful, it has the potential to diminish the precious value of life by putting a positive spin on death. By “celebrating” death it glorifies that a corpse is the center of attention and the loss of a loved one is a reason for “celebration.” Chad Bird from thefederalist.com says, “Call it a celebration all you want; life is not so much celebrated as death is ignored.”[14] With the pre-planning that a celebration of life ceremony requires, an egocentric and narcissistic attitude can be revealed. It is important that priorities are kept straight and that the individual is not idolized but justly remembered without downplaying the reality of death. The steep price of funerals in the United States, each costing nearly $9,000 according to The Economist, shows the greed of Americans today. Death and dying is a big business opportunity, a production that was worth $16 billion in 2017 in the United States alone.[15] In a time of grief and pain, businesses involved in the funeral process such as burial companies and funeral homes are taking advantage of the distressed families and friends of the deceased.[16] With not much competition across these businesses, there is a large gap for complacency, mistreatment, and inflated prices. These problems with celebrations of life and funerals take away from the grieving process of death and make it a selfish act.[17]

There are various aspects that go into what makes up how United States culture views the death of different ages, such as overall societal norms and how memorial services are held depending on death.[18] The United States is a melting pot of people, ideas, and opinions—especially when it comes to death and dying; however, all of these views together make up the view of most Americans at large.

Loss of a loved one can have several different aspects to it, such as the ones we have discussed, scientific and cultural, but with these aspects, we have to make sure we draw attention to the ethics of grieving. Ethics concerns the moral philosophy of suggesting and debating over the right and wrong of different conflicts. This philosophy controls people’s behaviors and choices. Based on how we perceive what is morally correct and incorrect, a universal definition of morality applied to different situations is non-existent. With different interpretations, people can practice emotions, such as grief, in a variety of different ways, all of which are valid.[19]  Morally, we all have our right to grieve in whichever way or form that we wish, under whatever time constraint we deem as necessary. Overall, the ethics of grievance affects all ages of the deceased equally, with minimal but different present interpretations of the whole process.

The ethical focus of bereavement focuses on ensuring that an individual can be allowed to grieve in a comforting way that allows them to process the event that took place. As mentioned in the cultural and scientific focuses, grief is not a clean-cut topic to explore, but rather a blurred subject (since death remains taboo in our society).[20] Autonomy supports the ethical sphere of grief, giving an individual the choice over their life, along with demanding respect and self-determination over their actions. Another ethical principle that applies to the grieving process is justice: when an individual gives someone what they deserve and what is due in an ethical fashion. The main example of this is giving compassion and allowing people to uphold their autonomy in grieving in the way they wish. The principle of deontology draws upon justice, ensuring that one is consistently respecting and upholding an individual’s moral obligations and duties for an action, based on if it is right or wrong under a series of rules. Practicing this ethical standard may mean disagreeing with someone’s grieving practices but supporting their customs anyway. A common grief model, which provides an outline that is not right nor wrong, is represented by the Kubler-Ross theory that supports individuals’ distinct methods of grievance.

“Recognising Reactions to Change, and Responding to Them.” Elisabeth Goodman’s Blog. November 10, 2013. Accessed April 09, 2019. https://elisabethgoodman.wordpress.com/2011/11/08/recognising-reactions-to-change-and-responding-to-them/.
This graph shows The Kubler-Ross stages of grief; the non-linear curve indicates that there is no linear way to grieve and experience death.

 

The Kubler-Ross psychological stages of grief uphold ethical standards of bereavement as they support that every grievance process is different for all individuals. Outlined by stages of denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance, “the grief process is circular and spirals throughout the various stages.”[21] While this model gives us a good representation of the process, we have to acknowledge that the stages are also “not linear and some people may not experience any of them.”[22]  Becoming aware of these stages and the fluidity of them holds up ethical standards of grief and affirms the griever of the validity of their processes. Between the grievance of children and adults, these stages can take different forms while presenting themselves in common trends between the two. It can be common that people draw more attention to child death than adult death. While both deaths can be unexpected, children are viewed with more innocence and with a decreased possibility of experiencing death. An adult death may be viewed differently since they have had the ability to live and have a greater sense of control in their life.

We can explore that the real ethical issue of grief that leads to its complexity, is not conducting more research towards it. The lack of research on this subject is also due to the ethical concerns around researching bereavement practices.[23] Until we have experienced an equivalent grievance of death, whether it be a child or adult, we cannot come close to fully empathizing with the person going through their unique bereavement process. The difference between emotional bonds and ties between the deceased and the loved ones left behind drives the nature of grief. Our different perspectives of grief should be minimized while comforting the people around us to prevent persuasion towards their vulnerable state and to effectively acknowledge their difference of understanding.

Although grief is a complex concept, we can begin to understand it by examining small aspects such as the effect that the deceased’s age has on the mourning process. Research in psychology and neuroscience has revealed differences in the way people think about death with regards to different ages; culture further changes perspectives on the death of children versus adults; ethics affects the grieving process for all age groups and assures a lack of discrimination between grieving processes. Regardless of these nuances, grief is a necessary and healthy part of processing the death of a loved one.

Miranda Black, Emily Teems, Mikayla Cunningham

 

[1] Chambers, R. Andrew, and Sue C. Wallingford. “On Mourning and Recovery: Integrating Stages of Grief and Change Toward a Neuroscience-Based Model of Attachment Adaptation in Addiction Treatment.” Psychodynamic Psychiatry 45, no. 4 (2017): 451-73. Accessed April 5, 2019. https://guilfordjournals.com/doi/pdfplus/10.1521/pdps.2017.45.4.451.

[2] Janusz, Bernadetta, Joanna Jurek, and Karolina Dejko-Wańczyk. “The Grieving Process After Child Loss from the Perspective of the Continuing Bonds Theory: A Systematic Case Study.” Psychotherapia4, no. 187 (2018): 31-42. Accessed April 5, 2019. http://www.psychoterapiaptp.pl/uploads/PT_4_2018/ENGver31Janusz_Psychoterapia_4_2018.pdf.

[3] Erikson, Erik, Childhood and society. 2nd ed. 1963. New York: W. W. Norton.

[4] Al-Maharma, Dua’ Yousef, Hiba Abujaradeh, Khadejah Fahmi Mahmoud, and Reem Ahmad Jarrad. “Maternal Grieving And The Perception Of And Attachment To Children Born Subsequent To A Perinatal Loss.” Infant Mental Health Journal37, no. 4 (2016): 411-23. doi:10.1002/imhj.21570.

[5] Osterweis, Marian, Fredric Solomon, and Morris Green. Bereavement: Reactions, Consequences, and Care. Washington, D.C.: National Academy Press, 1989. Accessed April 5, 2019. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK217848/.

[6] Christ, Grace H., D.S.W., George Bonanno, Ph.D., Ruth Malkinson, Ph.D., and Simon Rubin, Ph.D. When Children Die: Improving Palliative and End-of-life Care for Children and Their Families. Washington: National Academies Press, 2003. Accessed April 5, 2019. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK220798/#ddd00406.

[7]  Osterweis, Marian, Fredric Solomon, and Morris Green. Bereavement: Reactions, Consequences, and Care. Washington, D.C.: National Academy Press, 1989. Accessed April 5, 2019. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK217848/.

[8] Osterweis, Marian, Fredric Solomon, and Morris Green. Bereavement: Reactions, Consequences, and Care. Washington, D.C.: National Academy Press, 1989. Accessed April 5, 2019. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK217848/.

[9] Taylor, Shelley E. Health Psychology. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill Education, 2018.

[10] Janusz, Bernadetta, Joanna Jurek, and Karolina Dejko-Wańczyk. “The Grieving Process After Child Loss from the Perspective of the Continuing Bonds Theory: A Systematic Case Study.” Psychotherapia4, no. 187 (2018): 31-42. Accessed April 5, 2019. http://www.psychoterapiaptp.pl/uploads/PT_4_2018/ENGver31Janusz_Psychoterapia_4_2018.pdf.

[11] Taylor, Shelley E. Health Psychology. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill Education, 2018.

[12] Religion. “The Tragic Death Of The Funeral.” The Federalist. December 13, 2013. Accessed April 08, 2019. https://thefederalist.com/2013/12/06/funeral-funeral-celebration-life-one-last-hurrah/.

[13] “Great News for the Dead: The Funeral Industry Is Being Disrupted.” The Economist. April 14, 2018. Accessed April 09, 2019. https://www.economist.com/leaders/2018/04/14/great-news-for-the-dead-the-funeral-industry-is-being-disrupted.

[14] Religion. “The Tragic Death Of The Funeral.” The Federalist. December 13, 2013. Accessed April 08, 2019. https://thefederalist.com/2013/12/06/funeral-funeral-celebration-life-one-last-hurrah/.

[15] “Great News for the Dead: The Funeral Industry Is Being Disrupted.” The Economist. April 14, 2018. Accessed April 09, 2019. https://www.economist.com/leaders/2018/04/14/great-news-for-the-dead-the-funeral-industry-is-being-disrupted.

[16] Olberding, Amy. “Is the Death of an Elder Worse than the Death of a Young Person? – Amy Olberding | Aeon Ideas.” Aeon. April 08, 2019. Accessed April 09, 2019

[17] “Comprehensive Cancer Information.” National Cancer Institute. Accessed April 09, 2019. https://www.cancer.gov/.

[18] Institute of Medicine (US) Committee on Palliative and End-of-Life Care for Children and Their Families. “BEREAVEMENT EXPERIENCES AFTER THE DEATH OF A CHILD.” When Children Die: Improving Palliative and End-of-Life Care for Children and Their Families. January 01, 1970. Accessed April 09, 2019. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK220798/.

[19] “The Ethics of Grief.” Ethics Beyond Compliance. April 06, 2015. Accessed April 05, 2019. https://ethicsbeyondcompliance.wordpress.com/2013/11/22/the-ethics-of-grief/.

[20] Lee, Raymond L.m. “Modernity, Mortality and Re-Enchantment: The Death Taboo Revisited.” Sociology 42, no. 4 (2008): 745-59. doi:10.1177/0038038508091626.

[21] Roseman, Janet Lynn, Elizabeth Hames, and Paula Anderson Worts. “Grief and Healing.” Alternative and Complementary Therapies 23, no. 3 (2017): 93-97. Accessed April 5, 2019. doi:10.1089/act.2017.29112.jlr.

[22] Gregory, Christina. “Five Stages Of Grief – Understanding the Kubler-Ross Model.” PsyCom.net – Mental Health Treatment Resource Since 1986. Accessed April 05, 2019. https://www.psycom.net/depression.central.grief.html.

[23] Beck, Andrea M., and Candace A. Konnert. “Ethical Issues in the Study of Bereavement: The Opinions of Bereaved Adults.” Death Studies 31, no. 9 (2007): 783-99. Accessed April 05, 2019. doi:10.1080/07481180701537220.

15 Comments

  1. Caroline Vincent

    April 20, 2019 at 12:49 pm

    This post raises a concern in the scope of my topic. If parents depending on the age of their child experience grief in different ways, how can people be diagnosed with complicated grief correctly? Will different types of grieving be weighed differently and allowed longer grieving periods? However, how is one able to attribute value to someone’s loss?

  2. This post was a great read and I enjoyed the in-depth analysis presented! I often contemplate this question of who is more grievable and what factors play into this. In particular, the part where you discuss how a parent’s response to the loss of child is increased with greater familiarity. I would argue that grief would increase more with investment more so than familiarity. From a biological perspective, parental grief could stem from a biological consequence of losing offspring (aka prevention of spreading your genes); more years spent raising the child, more investment, the older the child at death, the more anguish felt at that loss. However, when a younger child or baby is lost, the grief may be lesser than that of an older child due to the fact less investment was used. I loved the quote that the death of a child is a “loss of the future,” while the death of someone older is a “loss of the past.” However, I would argue that sometimes a child’s death be more easily forgiven, someone having another baby in which the previous death can reason to appreciate the new life as well as the loss transformed into a positive concept (i.e. with the idea of rainbow babies, or a sibling as a guardian angel). However, as you pointed out, the cultural interpretation of these types of deaths often defines the grievability of certain deaths. Clearly, the concept of what factors make one death more anguishing than another are deeply complex and I thought your post presented this well. Great job!

  3. I truly enjoyed reading this post, especially because it provided a different perspective on a topic that I already read about in another post titled “Is the Death of the Infants Ranked Higher than that of the Elderly”. While that post explored more of the evolutionary and cultural drives of different attitudes towards the value of young and old lives, this article looked at these same issues through a more U.S. focused, psychologically centered lense. I thought it particularly interesting how you referred to parents’ relationship to the success of their children as an “investment” in their future, as this choice of wording reflects how American notions of capitalism and individualism influence the way even our own discussions of death and dying are worded and the conclusions we come to. Indeed, if Americans do in fact view their children as investments in the future, than it makes perfect psychological sense that in American culture the young are grieved more than the elderly, as the elderly are not viewed as contributing to society as much. In contrast, some fo the Eastern cultures discussed in the other article actually view the death of an elderly person as just as tragic as that of a young person due to their more sociocentric definitions of personhood. This exemplifies just one way that your article and the “Is the Death Of Infants Ranked Higher than that of the Elderly” post interact with each other, something that really made both of your posts stand out all the more to me for their combined scope and depth of analysis.

  4. Rebecca Burton

    April 23, 2019 at 4:02 pm

    I thought it was extremely interesting how you all not only broke down this post into why people grieve old people differently than grieving children, but also looked at how grief differs based on the age of the deceased youth. It made sense to me that people find it harder to cope with the death of younger people compared to coping with the death of older people. My father owns a funeral home, so I have seen many different funerals. There is a stark difference between a funeral for an older adult vs. a funeral for a youth. With an older deceased person, the funerals reflects on the long life and family the deceased had, and the people attending the funerals are mostly trying to keep a positive attitude through reflecting on the long life of the individual. However, when the deceased is a youth, it is harder for people to cope with the death because (as I have heard people say at funeral) the deceased had a long life ahead of them they did not get to live. Your pod did a great job at take a deep and thorough look at the different coping for different ages of youth, which helped me learn a lot more!!

  5. This essay was extremely well written and organized, and y’all did a great job integrating all the different viewpoints. I found it interesting the point about a premature death being ‘kinder’ to the living, and I might have to disagree. I would find more comfort in spending more time with a loved one as they were dying then having them suddenly taken at a younger age. But I do see the point that is trying to be made. Your quote “while grief may vary from person to person, it serves the same purpose”, is similar to the last article I read which talked about how all humans feel the same about death, but its how we express it that is different. And I like how to used the example of the squiggly line of grief, because there is no one process. I also found the difference in funerals and celebrations of life fascinating. From personal experience, I have found the elderly to be more traditional and have funerals, whereas younger people to be more unconventional and have celebrations of life, so it was interesting to hear another point of view. Overall great job!

  6. I thought that this was an interesting research post because my group also wrote about grief in relation to age, but in a different way. Our research post – Grief by Age – discusses the grieving process in relation to the age of the bereaved, rather than the age of the deceased. I also enjoyed reading about your discussion of the grieving process and how it “looks less like a clean, straight line and more like a scribble from a child’s coloring book”. Another research post – Universal and Cross-Cultural Models of Grief – also discusses how grief is not a linear process, and how people may feel that that are grieving “incorrectly” if they do not follow the linearity of the Kubler-Ross model, for example. In reality, however, not everyone grieves the same way, or even in this way at all. However, the difference in the response to the death of an older person vs. the death of a child raises an interesting question for me: what does this say about the value placed on an older person’s life vs. a younger person’s life?

  7. Having been to funerals for my grandfather and one of my childhood friends, this topic brought great interest to me. I thought the group’s analysis of the differences in age of those who have passed was exceptionally well done as many of the feelings that they described were feelings that I had at the respective funerals. My childhood friend was one that was extremely difficult as it felt as life was cut way too short and dealing with everything leading to my grandfather’s death felt overbearing and put extreme weight on my shoulders. This topic is one that is extremely touchy as death is never something that humans want to deal with but know that it will happen eventually, but I thought that the way that this group addressed the cultural, scientific, and ethical aspects surrounding the topic was very well-written and took into account those feelings that everyone has or will experience in this life. My friend’s parents, from what I have observed, have had very similar experiences that this group described, so I very much appreciate the thought and accuracy of the information for the topic at hand.

  8. I found this post to be really interesting and thorough in the way you explained how individuals grieve differently based on the age of the deceased. Personally, I can understand why people find it more difficult to experience the death of a child than of an older person since they haven’t been able to experience as much and figure out who they are and what they are capable of achieving in life. However, in my life I have only experienced death of older individuals and even though they may have lived a long life, seeing them suffer and go through what they endured is extremely devastating. Any loss is heartbreaking no matter the age, but in seeing how you analyzed the different cultures and the way they interpret death and the ages of the deceased differently, especially in the way they grieve and reflect on the loss, is something I really enjoyed reading more about.

  9. Reading this post was really interesting for me, seeing as I contributed to a post on “Gender Differences in the Grieving Process”. I noticed a lot of similarities between our posts, but it got me thinking about the section on the loss of a child. This post mentions interpersonal attachments play a crucial role in predicting how one will respond to grieve. Although our post found that there were no differences in the grieving process between males and females, would a mother have higher interpersonal attachments with their baby (seeing as they carried it around for nine months)? You also mentioned in this post that the ethical practice is to ensure that individuals can grieve in a comforting way. This is something that was strongly emphasized in our article because the gender stereotypes about grief are harmful to the bereaved. Minimizing our perspectives on grief is a great idea on how to address those who are undergoing this process. I loved the idea of utilizing this method in order to acknowledge our different understandings.

  10. I love that you presented a multitude of types of grief that could exist throughout a person’s lifetime, such as speaking to the most “disordered” grief deriving from people that have lost a child, but specifically pregnant women who feel their sense of identity rests in becoming a mother or when children are a little older because the levels of attachment have increased. I do wonder, though, how this sense of experienced grief affects a mother in potentially having another child in the future if they are within a health age to do so? Also, how does the grief of losing a child depend on gender: of the child or of the parent? How does one determine what age death is more severe for those that grieve because every death is just as traumatizing depending on the situation? I find it interesting that your topic presents the idea of funerals and the social transition towards “celebrations of life” to take the negative and fearful connotation out of death. I had never really considered death as a “business” venture, but the way you presented it makes me question how a family/friends are able to effectively begin the grieving process in the US if they aren’t financially secure enough to pay for a funeral or “celebration of life.” Could it potentially cause the process of grief to be a prolonged experience if they are unable to have this departing ceremony with their loved ones? Overall, I found this post to be very intriguing and well written in effectively engaging the audience but also providing a multitude of angles to approach this topic, especially with the emphasis that stages of grief aren’t necessarily a cut and dried process.

  11. I think your post raises important arguments regarding grieving depending upon age of the deceased. When you mentioned Mary Ainsworth, one thing that came to my mind was her actual experiment on attachment that involved mothers and children. When I think of attachment, I think of the attachment between child and mother, less so of child and father. My group researched grieving differences by gender and I would be curious to see if mothers experienced deeper grief than fathers (not to say that fathers do not grieve, but the mother is the one carrying the child for 9 months). While my group did not find any differences between the ways men and women grieve that differ from social standards, I would not be surprised if mothers felt more grief over the death of a child than fathers. If there were a difference in grief level, I feel like it would blur over time. Both females and males experience the same level of grief older in life, they just express their feelings differently. Overall, our topics go well together and I find it so fascinating that we experience a more intense grief for the loss of a young person, whereas the grief is less intense for an old person.

  12. I enjoyed this post simply because it brings up the debate of who’s death is more eventful, more devastating, more meaningful is constantly happening and acknowledges there’s not a right answer, because grief looks different on different people. In my group’s post about universal/cross-cultural models of grief, I can see the overlap with this post in regards to acknowledgement that universal definition/model of grief is non-existent. In examining adult’s grieving and mourning processes of children and adults, I naturally have the question – what about children grieving? Does that manifest into when they grow up and grieve as an adult? I would like to see an exploration of that, if the research exists because it could also relate to issues like PTSD.

  13. Great article! Although all deaths are painful to cope with no matter what age, I always found the death of a child to catch my attention more so than the elderly. As mentioned in the article, the elderly have taught us and have invested in us, so that is why we experience the pain after their loss. I found it interesting how the article differentiated between the loss of a child versus the elderly. Parents invest in children and their future, helping them mature and grow into adults. Due to this investment, this is why it is so painful for parents to lose their child. This differentiation made a lot of sense to me! Once again, all deaths are devastating to loved ones and family members, but the age of a child plays a huge contributing factor as well.

  14. I enjoyed reading your post! This post reminded me of an activity I did once in my psychology class. We were asked the question; would we save a one-year-old or a five-year-old? Most of the class said the five-year-old, attachment played a major part in that decision; your post presents related evidence. Our society has normalized the idea of death being completely unexpected amongst youth and expected amongst elders. Additionally, I love the comparison of having a funeral and celebrating life. Your visuals do a great job in depicting how the practices are different.

  15. It was very interesting for me to see the differences of how age affects the way we grieve and mourn those which have died. It made me ask myself why we grieve the loss of a child more than the loss of the elderly if the elderly person has contributed more to society than the child has ever done. This “potential” of the child is the strongest factor while the “worn out” status of the elderly makes their death seem less sad for others. While an elderly person has already given society their all, a child still has so much to offer and the possibilities are endless. I enjoyed this post because it did a perfect job in describing these differences of age and how it affects not only how we mourn, but also the reasons for which we grieve them.

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