How Grief, Funerals, and Poverty Affect Bereaved Health, Productivity, and Medical Dependence in Japan

Carl B. Becker, Yozo Taniyama, Megumi Kondo-Arita, Shinya Yamada, Kayoko Yamamoto

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Grief has been shown to weaken bereaved persons' health, but measurements of their lost time and medical expense remain rare. Funerals traditionally managed and assuaged grief through ritual expression, approval, and social support. Research suggests that satisfying funeral participation reduces grief, while poverty exacerbates it. We hypothesized that: (1) psycho-physical symptoms of grief, (2) abbreviation/dissatisfaction in the funeral, and (3) poverty, correlate with decreased productivity and increased medical and social services use. We collected data from 165 mourning families about their grief, funerals, and subsequent medical conditions. (1) Deeper grief after bereavement in Japan correlated with more physical problems, more down time, and more medical dependency. (2) Low satisfaction with funerals correlated with higher hospital, pharmacy, and counseling costs. (3) Low income families lost more time, while declining incomes showed increased pharmaceutical costs. This suggests that satisfying funerals and income safeguards may reduce costs of low productivity and increased public services dependency.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)669-689
Number of pages21
JournalOmega: Journal of Death and Dying
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2022 Aug


  • Japan
  • bereavement
  • cost
  • funerals
  • grief
  • health
  • medical care
  • productivity
  • social services

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Critical Care and Intensive Care Medicine
  • Life-span and Life-course Studies


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