Daniela Silva: Coping with Grief in the Brazilian Culture

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Daniela Silva of Brazil recently spoke with Dr. Gloria Horsley of the Open to Hope Foundation during the Association for Death Education and Counseling conference about the difference in grieving between Brazilian and US cultures. In Brazil, Silva explains that the extended family is very involved with the grieving process. However, the idea of talking about grief isn’t as accepted in Brazil as it is in the US. Plus, Silva explains, “We don’t have programs, we have little professional training in grief therapy and we’re trying to improve this now.” Hospices are rare in Brazil, with the first one opening in 2015.

In Brazilian culture, the idea of a hospice is not just strange but even offensive. You’re expected to care for family members, and it can be seen as cold to “let” someone else, such as a professional, do it. However, that thought process is slowly shifting, especially in cases where those who are dying need an increasing amount of expert care around the clock. There are “home maids,” and it’s easier to have beloved ones at home with home care aids being hired.

Cultural Divide

Pain control in the home is an easier approach for Brazilians to accept. “I think the future will be hospices, but it will take a long time,” says Silva. She reports back to her Brazilian colleagues every time she visits the US, helping to import new ideas from around the world. Dr. Horsley asks about death ceremonies in Brazil, and Silva notes that “We have very quick funerals, the body is buried I think in less than 24 hours, and people have difficulties to improve their grieving because of this…after one week, nobody talks about the loss.” There’s a lot of help at first, but then everyone goes back to “normal.”

Loneliness is palpable, but there’s an annual ceremony similar to Mexico’s Day of the Dead with a Catholic ceremony and a day to remember the dead.

Gloria Horsley

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Dr. Gloria Horsley is an internationally known grief expert, psychotherapist, and bereaved parent. She started "Open to Hope" to help the millions in the world with grief. She is a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and Clinical Nurse Specialist, and has worked in the field of family therapy for over 20 years. Dr. Horsley hosts the syndicated internet radio show, The Grief Blog which is one of the top ranked shows on Health Voice America. She serves the Compassionate Friends in a number of roles including as a Board of Directors, chapter leader, workshop facilitator, and frequently serves as media spokesperson. Dr. Horsley is often called on to present seminars throughout the country. She has made appearances on numerous television and radio programs including "The Today Show," "Montel Williams," and "Sallie Jessie Raphael." In addition, she has authored a number of articles and written several books including Teen Grief Relief with Dr. Heidi Horlsey, and The In-Law Survival Guide.

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