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.
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.