ABSTRACT

Adopting a cultural perspective, this chapter explores how responses to death and loss, particularly how people continue their relationships with those who have died, shed light on identity, agency, and social participation. By looking across cultures at an experience that threatens identity and continuity (Parkes, 1988), a broader, more in-depth, complex, and nuanced picture of continuing bonds emerges. Focusing on societies with contrasting models of identity, the chapter considers the implications of an emphasis on individualism in Britain and interdependency in Japan for recovering identity in each context. It asks, “How do people use available cultural scripts to make sense of ‘unusual’ experiences, such as those breaching the boundaries between the living and the dead?”