Magazine article USA TODAY

Grief Should Not Be Suppressed

Magazine article USA TODAY

Grief Should Not Be Suppressed

Article excerpt

In the tradition of the Irish wake, a few people have begun requesting "happy funerals," in which a celebration of the person's life takes place, rather than traditional mourning for his or her death. While this does not indicate a general avoidance of grief, it does reflect changing attitudes about how we deal with this emotion, indicates Eric Dlugokinski, a psychologist at the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center.

As fewer Americans grow up surrounded by extended family and friends, their contact with death--in the form of attending funerals of distant relatives and family acquaintances--also is curtailed dramatically. Therefore, when death does strike someone close, they have little, if any, preparation toward accepting it.

"Over all, grieving is less ritualized today than it used to be, both during funeral services and in the general population. However, grieving is still a very critical part of dealing with any type of loss, not just with death. Tears and traditional mourning can serve as a good release, as a ritualized way of saying good-bye.

"Emotions caused by the death of a loved one are very powerful. …

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