Adults' perspectives on loss and grief: a case study of Kiambu Municipality, Kenya
Kamau, Grace Wangui
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The need for loss and grief intervention has been recognized in various institutions of health and learning throughout Kenya. Development plans and policy papers have made various recommendations as regards the provision of guidance and counselling in schools and colleges. In sub Saharan Africa millions of people die every year as a result of sickness, accidents, famine, war and poverty related issues. In Kenya alone with prevalent rate of 13% HIV/AIDS and mortality rate of 700 adults per day the country is experiencing loss and grief at an alarming rate. Widows are left at the mercy of unscrupulous relatives who are more interested with property inheritance than caring for the children who have been left behind. Widowers on the other hand are left to care for themselves and their children contrary to the normal African practice. Hitherto, Africans have been known to enjoy the extended family and social support. With everyone seeking to adapt the Western lifestyle the close affiliation is slowly being eroded. This poses the danger of experiencing loss and grief in isolation. One must contend not only with the loss but also loneliness. The situation is exacerbated by lack of psychological intervention. This in turn leaves many people unable to process the loss they have experienced in a healthy way. This research was conducted in Kiambu Municipality and it involved fifty purposefully selected bereaved adults 20 males and 30 females who have experienced grief within the last five years. It further involved 30 practicing counsellors. Data was collected through questionnaires which were self administered to the bereaved and the counsellors. The data was analyzed through descriptive statistics such as frequency distributions and percentages. Qualitative descriptions were also used in the data presentations. The overall aim of this study was to study how adults perceive the loss of a significant other in their lives. The study focussed on adults perceptions on the loss of a significant other. Included in this study is the loss of a parent, spouse, child and sibling. This study was intended to find out gender disparities in perceptions, age variations in terms of perceiving loss and grief, the role of social and religious support in times of grief. The difference of perceptions in regard to the place of death, in relation, period of death, the age of the deceased and the marital cum economic status and level of education of the bereaved person. This study was guided by the principle that the perception of the adult determines his or her desire to seek intervention whenever faced by loss and grief. In addition, perceptions also determines whether one goes through normal or abnormal grief hence regarding to seek possible counselling intervention in mitigating complicated and pathological mourning. The main findings of this research was that each and adult perceives death in a very unique way which majority are aware of. Adults in Kiambu are also aware of counselling services offered as intervention for loss and grief. Those who do not seek professional support seek social and religious support. The adult's perceptions to loss and grief range from psychological, physical, social and spiritual to philosophical. Further information revealed that counsellors offer loss and grief therapy. According to the counsellors who responded, the study concluded that, there is need for more support from the Health and Educational sectors in terms of adequate training facilities, relevant reading materials and in service courses where therapists can receive more skills and techniques. Based on the findings, the study concluded that adults going through loss and grief are aware of counselling services available but have limited knowledge of its therapeutic value. Grief therapy has contributed to:- greater self awareness during grief, providing time to mourn and the necessary support during and after grief.