- Study involving 2,000 people looked at prolonged grief disorder (PGD)
- About 10.9% of grieving people in Ireland had PGD, compared to 15.3% in the UK
Irish-style wakes may help people cope better with their bereavement than funerals, a new study suggests.
Researchers said services that welcome the entire community and feature an open casket for mourners to say goodbye could help lower rates of prolonged grief disorder (PGD).
This is described as being when a person has a yearning for the deceased which persists for more than six months.
An Ulster University study found that about 10.9 per cent of bereaved Irish people met the criteria for PGD, compared to 15 per cent in the UK.
Cultural differences around death may be part of the reason that bereaved people in the UK are 50 per cent more likely to have the condition, the authors said.
How best to deal with grief: Irish-style wakes may help people cope better with their bereavement than funerals, a new study suggests. This graphic shows how the two compare
Researchers said services that welcome the entire community and feature an open casket for mourners to say goodbye could help lower rates of prolonged grief disorder (stock image)
Differences between an Irish wake and a UK funeral
– Open casket
– Public involving the whole community
– Last 2 to 3 days
– Sing songs
– Refreshments, including alcohol
– Share stories about the deceased
– Closed coffin
– Private, usually only for close family and friends
– Last between 40 minutes and an hour
– Music/hymns played
– No refreshments until afterwards
‘For example, in Ireland, it is customary to hold a wake (i.e., social gathering prior to a funeral) during which family, friends, neighbours, work colleagues and acquaintances can come to pay their respects and support the bereaved,’ they added.
‘In the United Kingdom, such an event generally takes place after the funeral and is akin to social gatherings that occur following an Irish funeral.’
Wakes usually last two or three days so people from the whole community can come and go to pay their respects.
They involve singing songs, refreshments including alcohol and the opportunity to share stories and memories with family members.
There also tends to be an open coffin so people attending can say their goodbyes, as opposed to a closed casket at UK funerals.
These are also more formal affairs which last between 40 minutes to an hour on average, with no refreshments until afterwards, a eulogy or reading as opposed to poetry and stories plus music or hymns being played.
The study added that, in the UK, funerals are often regarded as being private, while in Ireland they are much more communal events.
‘Hence it may be that there is a greater sense of community within Irish bereavement culture, with it being widely established that social support plays a key role in determining the ability of the bereaved to adjust to their loss,’ researchers said.
Explanation: Cultural differences around death may be part of the reason that bereaved people in the UK are 50 per cent more likely to have prolonged grief disorder than those in Ireland, the authors said (stock image)
Colm Kieran, a member of the Irish Association of Funeral Directors, told The Times: ‘The wake process is recognised as being psychologically very important.
‘Our brain picks up the sense that this person has died.
‘There is the difference between having an open coffin in Ireland versus the closed coffin in the UK.
‘Psychologically we get to see that a person no longer has life in their body and the brain can process that fact.’
PGD differs from typical grief in that it is described as being intense and persistent grief that causes problems and interferes with daily life.
An individual suffering from PGD is likely to experience a feeling as though part of oneself has died, a marked sense of disbelief about the death, intense emotional pain, difficulty with reintegration with friends, emotional numbness, feeling that life is meaningless, and intense loneliness.
The study has been published in the Journal of Traumatic Stress.
Amazon’s Alexa may soon be able to read you stories in the voice of a dead relative to help ‘make the memories last’
Amazon has revealed it is developing a system to let Alexa mimic any voice after hearing less than a minute of audio.
It could allow users of Amazon’s voice assistant to have stories read to them in the voice of a loved one – including a deceased friend or relative.
Alexa’s senior vice-president Rohit Prasad said the goal was to ‘make the memories last’ after ‘so many of us have lost someone we love’ during the pandemic.
Using the new technology, the company had been able to produce high-quality audio using just one minute of speech.
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