Coping with Bereavement: Strategies of addressing Spiritual, Emotional and Material Challenges among Widows in ACK Embu Diocese, Kenya
AbstractGrief care refers to the formalized care and support given to a bereaved individual to help him or her cope with the challenges that result from the death of a loved one. Despite its critical role, grief care during widowhood remains largely inadequate. For example, many religious leaders and community members in Kenya condole with widows immediately after the death of a husband but resume their normal lives soon after the burial, leaving the widows lonely and devastated. Yet, limited research has examined how widows in Kenya cope with the challenges associated with the death of their spouses. This paper therefore aims at assessing the challenges that widows in ACK Embu diocese of Kenya undergo and the measures taken to assist them cope with the death of their husbands. The study is guided by the five stages of coping with dying by Kubler Ross. The study adopted the descriptive survey research design and targeted 968 widows already in the pastoral care programmes, 7 Archdeacons heading the 7 Archdeaconries of Embu Diocese and 1 diocesan Bishop. Taking 10 percent of the targeted population as an acceptable sample size, systematic random sampling was used to select every 10th element hence a sample size of 97 respondents. The 7 Archdeacons and the 1 diocesan Bishop were purposively selected as key informants, giving a total of 8 representatives of the pastoral care givers in the pastoral care programmes in the ACK diocese of Embu on grief management for widows. Data was collected from respondents using questionnaires. Interview guides were used in data collection from the key informants. Quantitative data was analyzed descriptively using frequencies, percentages, means and standard deviations. Data presentation was done in form of tables and graphs. Qualitative data was analyzed using the thematic approach and was used to enrich the quantitative results. The study found that resource constraints, isolation and culturally induced stigma were among the major challenges faced by widows. Inadequate knowledge on dealing with death and grief was a challenge faced by grief caregivers, making them concentrate more on material and spiritual support at the expense of emotional support. The paper recommends more training for grief caregivers to make them more prepared to offer the spiritual, emotional and material support needed by widows to effectively cope with grief.
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