Papers from the International Association for Cross-Cultural Psychology Conferences

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From an African perspective death is a natural transition from the visible to the invisible spiritual ontology where the spirit, the essence of the person, is not destroyed but moves to live in the spirit ancestors’ realm dead. It signifies an inextricable spiritual connection between the visible and invisible worlds. This chapter focuses on how traditional Africans conceive and deal with the bereavement process. We adopt the African worldview and philosophy as our framework. We dispute the often held view in mainstream psychology that behavior, in this case the concept of death and the bereavement processes have universal applicability, articulation, representation and meaning. For Africans, death is accompanied by a series of the performance of rituals which connect the living dead and the living. Two case studies are presented and discussed to illustrate the African conception of death, its meaning, significance and accompanying mourning rituals and process. We approach the participants’ stories from a qualitative narrative inquiry viewpoint as our methodology. The experiences in the participants’ stories in the workplace reveal that African indigenous ways of dealing with death are still not recognized, respected and understood in organizations which have a dominant Western culture.

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