Carlos Blessing traveled from Nicaragua to attend the 2015 Association for Death Education and Counseling conference, where he spoke with Dr. Gloria Horsley about men and grieving. “We live in a very machismo culture,” he explains. “Men take care of everything.” The desire to look strong and seemingly emotionless is steeped deep into Nicaraguan culture, and Latin American culture in general. In Nicaragua, the men are in charge of all the logistics of a death, from planning the funeral to taking care of the paperwork, which keeps them busy and allows little time for grieving even if they felt comfortable processing the loss.
The women take care of the family, while the men are committed to taking care of arrangements. Given the recent disasters and traumas in the country as a whole, Blessing says men have had predominant activities to care for in society. All families suffer from catastrophic issues, but it has a severe impact on males. Generally, the eldest males carry the most responsibilities when a death happens, and Blessing explains there’s always a triage system to dictate who’s in charge.
Grief in Nicaragua
“In the Nicaraguan culture, there’s always a male that basically makes decisions,” Blessing says. There are instances where discussions are made with families, but ultimately the male is the decision maker. Blessing notes that different approaches vary by country, and “if you want to be successful, you have to respect the culture, those values,” he says.
In Nicaragua, you have to go to the head of the family first and then approach the rest of the family. “Mostly, we get together and share our feelings and beliefs, and pay respect to the death in our family,” he says.