Grief and Culture with Dr. Andy Ho

Dr. Gloria Horsley talks with Dr. Andy Ho at the 2015 Association for Death Education and Counseling conference. As a researcher in Hong Kong, Dr. Ho notes that there are still a lot of superstitions in the Chinese culture. This means that some generations, especially the middle aged, avoid talking about death altogether. However, older generations are becoming eager to discuss their wishes and plans—but are met with deaf ears. “You’ll never see a Chinese family buy a house right next to a cemetery,” says Dr. Ho. The roots of superstition are deep.

This also means that younger generations aren’t equipped with the knowledge and information they need to properly care for aging parents, or to take care of matters after a death. To avoid talking about death and dying isn’t the answer. However, when behaving this way is the cultural norm, this can be a tough barrier to surpass.

Making Death “Normal”

“I think the curtain between life and death is easily removable,” he says. Like it or not, we’re very connected to death. There are also many rituals to honor ancestors, including visiting graveyards. Dr. Ho says it can be difficult to help some people through the grieving process, but it’s been improving in recent years.

“They (older people) are actually very open to talk about death and dying,” says Dr. Ho. However, younger generations can think that talking about death can accelerate the process. This puts a barrier between those who want to make death plans, and those (often adult children) who want to avoid the topic. Encouraging open talks is critical, and Dr. Ho says interventions are key. “What is life and death really about?” he asks. The education process needs to start from a very young age.

 

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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