The cross-cultural study of grief

Authored by: Dennis Klass

The Routledge Companion to Death and Dying

Print publication date:  May  2017
Online publication date:  May  2017

Print ISBN: 9781138852075
eBook ISBN: 9781315723747
Adobe ISBN:


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Three arguments can be made that grief is a universal biological, perhaps instinctual response (Horwitz and Wakefield, 2007: 38–42). First, it is continuous across species. Charles Darwin (1872) observed that non-human primates show similar expressions to ours. Second, infants express sadness in appropriate contexts. Indeed, John Bowlby’s attachment model of grief (1969, 1973, 1980) was based on his observations of young children separated from their caregivers. Third, grief is found in all human cultures. People in one culture recognize the grief of people in other cultures by facial expression, vocalization, and bodily posture.

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