With Black Americans leading shorter and sicker lives, it’s likely they are also experiencing grief more often and earlier in life, making bereavement a health disparity of its own, suggests new University of Arizona research published in Frontiers in Psychiatry.
But personal losses are just one source of grief for Black Americans, say researchers Da’Mere Wilson and Mary-Frances O’Connor with the Grief, Loss and Social Stress Lab in the Department of Psychology in the UArizona College of Science.
In their paper, Wilson and O’Connor write that to understand the unique experience of Black loss, grief and bereavement, it’s also necessary to consider the collective grief Black Americans have suffered as the result of America’s long history of racialization and racial violence. That collective grief continues to be felt today, Wilson said, especially with high-profile cases of racial violence – such as the 2020 murder of George Floyd by a white police officer – repeatedly making headlines.
“Personal loss is a domain where the loss is more of an individual experience, like losing a loved one, whereas collective loss is more of an experience that happens communally,” said Wilson, a doctoral student in psychology. “The George Floyd murder is a good example. It was a personal loss for his immediate family and friends, but it was also a collective loss, in that many Black Americans looked at George Floyd as someone who could be their uncle, could be their brother or could be them.”
Collective grief isn’t often the primary focus of grief research, but it may be a critical component of the Black grief experience, which has been understudied in psychology, Wilson said.
Read more at News.Arizona.edu.