Competing aspects of the rural Arab mothers' bereavement experience

Akhlas Ismail, Rachel Dekel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


The study applied relational dialectics theory to explore competing discourses in bereaved Arab mothers' talk about their bereavement experience in a collective space in rural areas of Israel, and to understand how the interaction between these discourses gives meaning to their experience. Fifteen bereaved mothers were interviewed. The mothers, aged 28–46 years, had children (aged 1–6 years) who died between 2 and 7 years previously. Analysis of the interviews revealed three main discursive struggles that characterize mothers' bereavement experience: (a) moving closer versus keeping one's distance; (b) social harmony versus personal needs; and (c) criticism of ongoing grief versus criticism of returning to routine functioning. The advantage of being part of a close-knit social network is that it provides emotional cushioning to the bereaved. This cushioning, however, does not preclude the struggle to attain normalcy after the tragedy within the parameters of the contradictory societal expectations and needs of the mourner.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2261-2275
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Community Psychology
Issue number5
Early online date11 Mar 2023
StatePublished - Jul 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 The Authors. Journal of Community Psychology published by Wiley Periodicals LLC.


  • Arab
  • collective society
  • maternal bereavement


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