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Influences of Religion and Culture on Continuing Bonds in a Sample of British Muslims of Pakistani Origin

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This study considered the nature of continuing bonds with deceased relatives in a sample of Pakistani Muslims living in the United Kingdom. Ten participants1 were interviewed following a cultural psychology approach and transcripts were analyzed using grounded theory methodology. Dreaming, talking with others about the deceased, following the deceased's example, keeping memories and mementos, and doing actions thought to help the deceased were forms of continued relationship found. These were intertwined with the process of grieving and were influenced by the family, culture, and religion. Religion was a strong influence on the prominence given by participants to finishing well and on the notion of doing actions thought to help the deceased. Cultural mores, such as the community, and collectivist ethos and the expectation that emotion would be expressed around the time of death, were found to be supportive for some but sources of tension for other participants. Expressing a continuing bond through following the deceased's example so as to make them proud or happy seemed to be reinforced by cultural roots in respect for elders. Participants gave instances of tensions in areas such as expression of emotion and communality versus individualism that arose as a result of their position between two cultural frameworks, some illustrating how assimilation into the host culture set up conflict with the expected norms of their family/ancestral culture. The study highlights how understanding different cultural and religious influences may enrich the concept of continuing bonds.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: School of Psychology, University of Birmingham, Birmingham, United Kingdom

Publication date: November 1, 2009

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