Grief in Cameroon society – a new ICPCN blog post

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In this latest ICPCN blog, Jushua looks at the way in which grief is handled by Cameroonians, many of whom experience regular confrontations with death due to AIDS, malaria, malnutrition and other poverty led diseases.

Culture in Cameroon is defined by a set of rules set by the ancestors, whether accompanied by explanations or not. They are bound to be respected and are closely transmitted along the generational lineage, including the management of grief.

Wikipedia defines grief as a multifaceted response to loss, particularly to the loss of someone or something that has died, to which a bond or affection was formed. Grieving that is not well managed can be as dangerous as a time bomb because of the severity of the impact of the trauma and the after effects from corking one’s emotions.

“The culture of the people is their mark of nobility’’. This is the motto of my community; a community that is strongly attached to beliefs that are quite unique and diverse – ranging from their beliefs about nature, illnesses, causes and effects, why man exists, why man is ill and why things happen. 

Culture has a very strong grip on the minds of Cameroonians just like in other African countries. In Cameroon it is very common to see learned professors refuse appropriate medical treatments in preference to rites, spiritual sacrificing or visiting exorcists; further portraying their strong attachment to customs and cultural beliefs and consequently promoting some non-beneficial aspects of our culture and customs, including grieving.

Grieving in the Cameroon society has a procedure; such as group visits where food and drinks are supplied and a grieving room which is set aside for grieving persons where friends and well-wishers come and sympathise. Some will help in doing things like cooking, house chores or farm work.

Grief is expressed by sadness, wailing, fasting, wearing of sackcloth, gathering around by relatives (usually the entire community), sympathisers and friends. However, grieving is sometimes considered a sign of weakness, hence it is often poorly managed and can lead to very serious psychological, physical or emotional consequences. This is especially true in the male group of grievers, as the culture permits grieving amongst females but it is forbidden for the males.

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