Home Institution

Colby College

Publication Date

Spring 2015

Program Name

Indonesia: Arts, Religion, and Social Change


Coming to Bali, I knew that I wanted to understand a sliver of the experiences that people have after a loved-one dies. Of course, there is no one way that people in Bali or anywhere process the loss of a loved-one, yet I am continually fascinated by how people understand and cope with the many feelings that occur after someone dies.

My interest in this topic started out of necessity my junior year of high school when I attended three funerals in ten days. The first was for an elderly friend, then one for my teammate’s father, and the last and hardest was for the sudden death of a close family friend’s six-month-old baby, Rhys. In the months following Rhys’ death, I watched the boundless empathy and care that my own parents gave to our grieving friends as the couple practically moved into our house. I learned when to cry, when not to cry, and when just to hold my friends until their exhaustion finally gave them brief rest from the nightmare they were living. My parents’ compassion and generosity throughout the experience moved me to immerse myself in emotional and academic understandings of death and dying. Although I did not know what aspect of grief to explore, I came to Bali with the intention of extending my understanding beyond my Quaker, Jewish, Spiritual, Christian, Agnostic, Atheist and Western conceptions into different religious and social spheres. I wanted to understand how to talk about grief with people coming from an entirely different mindset and background. Furthermore, I wanted to understand how spiritual healers and community members support people after a loved-one dies.


Comparative Methodologies and Theories | Hindu Studies