Part Three: Coping with Bereavement in the Religious, Cultural and Societal Contexts—How Religion and Culture Shape Bereavement

  • Maram Masarwi
Part of the Palgrave Studies in Cultural Heritage and Conflict book series (PSCHC)


Part Three, Coping with bereavement in the religious, cultural and societal contexts, deals further with the connection between the cultural, religious and social component and the phenomenon of bereavement in Palestinian society. I examine the influence of a combination of religious, social and cultural attitudes in shaping the content and dynamic of coping among Palestinian bereaved parents. The discussion addresses the development of the idea of sacrifice in Palestinian society and the influence of this idea on the construction of the Palestinian ethos of sacrifice. Both fathers and mothers reported that their religious faith served as a resource in shaping the way they felt about, and dealt with, the loss of their child, on both the individual and collective level. Most of the Palestinian parents cited the power of their belief in God as significantly helpful to them in coping with their loss and with the pain in accepting their child’s death as part of God’s plan: “Let it be as God has willed it.” The chapter goes on to address the religious meaning of the shaheed (martyr) as understood by these parents. The death of a child defined as a shaheed is seen as uniquely meaningful. For the parents, this categorization attaches special significance and purpose to the child’s death, guarantees the child himself eternal life, and promises automatic entry to paradise for the shaheed and his entire family. The faith, and the feeling, that the child is eternally alive and not dead is an important component for Palestinian parents in coping with their loss. The discussion proceeds to address the matter of social support and the way the notion of “parent of a shaheed” is cultivated. Their new role as bereaved parents, parents of a shaheed, places these Palestinian parents at the center of the Palestinian national and social map and affords them special status and a certain social aura that in many cases improves their social status generally within the community.


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© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Maram Masarwi
    • 1
  1. 1.Minerva Humanities CenterTel Aviv UniversityTel AvivIsrael

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