n Indilinga African Journal of Indigenous Knowledge Systems - Grief counselling in African indigenous churches : a case of the Zion Apostolic Church in Venda : socio-cultural life

Volume 7, Issue 1
  • ISSN : 1683-0296



Prior to the advent of modern technology and professional funeral services, grief was more shared and more public. Rituals such as the sitting shiva in the Jewish religion would help mourning. The funeral service industry has since assumed tremendous control over death rituals. Although largely commercialized in contemporary societies, the practice of rituals among African Indigenous Churches (AICs) in South Africa remains relatively intact. Bereavement is a shared experience among members of the Zion Apostolic Church (mapostola). Ma-postola understands grief as a multi-layered phenomenon which affects the surviving family emotionally, physically, cognitively and behaviourally. Their intervention model is an informed process which is aligned to the chronological order of phases of grief. It takes survivors through the initial stage of shock and disbelief, allows them a period of healing, and ultimately helps them complete the work of mourning. It requires collective participation, social isolation of the bereaved and then culminates in reincorporation of the bereaved into the community. The aim of this article is to explicate the meaning and value of grief counselling in AICs with special reference to the Zion Apostolic Church in Venda.

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