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cultural bereavement and cultural identity

Bereavement has been associated with psychotic, anxiety and mood disorders; however, this association is complicated due to the misinterpretation of the cultural expressions of grief by Western trained clinicians and the Western diagnostic criteria of psychiatric disorders that may not be applicable in people of different cultural backgrounds. Undoubtedly, people who have migrated due to political upheaval or war may have witnessed or participated in combat and torture; thus, affected individuals may have PTSD and bereavement, as these diagnoses are not mutually exclusive. Culturally appropriate mani- festations and expressions of bereavement may include Western constructs of PTSD and psychosis, including hearing voices, seeing ghosts and feeling the presence of the dead; therefore, it is important to recognize the symptoms of bereavement within the cultural constructs of the affected individual and be open to the possibility of additional psychiatric disorders. Cultural bereavement is an important aspect in the understanding of the migrant’s experience. Our hypothesis is that such an experience will be mediated through and influenced by cultural identity. The concepts of individual identity are likely to affect the understanding as well as working through the bereavement process.