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Program to explore how different cultures deal with grief

March 19, 2021 GMT

DETROIT (AP) — Michigan State University’s Science Gallery Detroit and the MSU Broad Art Museum will host an international, virtual conference on grief and how people across the globe deal with it.

Science of Grief starts Saturday evening with a panel discussion that explores death rituals practiced throughout the world and how some have been changed due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Cultural performances focusing on ritual and remembrance will be broadcast online Sunday afternoon. It will include a demonstration illustrating the ways deceased loved ones are remembered. Reservations are required to participate.

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To reduce the risk of spreading the COVID-19 virus, some hospitals restricted visitation, which prevented loved ones from being with of those receiving treatment. Traditional funeral services and burials were set aside or banned in some countries.

In some cases, the virus appears to have reversed the grieving process that starts with having family around to help grieve, then funerals and dealing with the loss of a loved one, said Natasha T. Miller, poet and community engagement manager for Science Gallery Detroit.

“They don’t have those moments,” Miller said. “They don’t have people to celebrate with, to grieve with, to feel sad with and feel connected to.”

Science of Grief explores multiple forms of grief while featuring scientific research, poetry, art and performance. The program responds to the idea that grief comes at different hours, for different people, and everyone deserves a listening ear, according to organizers.

Professors from Michigan State University and the Maryland Institute College of Art will serve as panelists and discuss ways cultures throughout the world acknowledge and recognize death and grief.

Miller’s brother, Marcus Walker, was 29 when he was shot to death during a robbery in Detroit, she said. His slaying never was solved. She created Science of Grief in 2018.

“It was, initially, for me to find a community of people who are experiencing the long-term effects of grief,” Miller said.

Science Gallery Detroit is a collaborative initiative presented by Michigan State University and Science Gallery International.

By combining efforts with Broad Art Museum, “we hope to provide space for our diverse audiences to connect, reflect and learn together during these difficult times,” said Devon Akmon, director of Science Gallery Detroit.