Aboriginal cultural practices on caring for the deceased person: findings and recommendations

Int J Palliat Nurs. 2007 Sep;13(9):418-25. doi: 10.12968/ijpn.2007.13.9.27389.


Aim: to describe Aboriginal peoples' post-death cultural practices in the Northern Territory.

Methods: the data were collected from 72 qualitative interviews conducted throughout the regional, rural and remote areas of the Northern Territory, Australia, with Aboriginal patients and carers and the health professionals who cared for them.

Results: the findings indicated the importance to Aboriginal peoples of viewing the body, and post-death bereavement practices of group wailing, which can be coupled with physical expressions of self-mutilation and removal of clothing. Special ceremonies are reported for times when the body is returned home and there are strong relationship-based practices about which persons are able to handle the body.

Conclusion: The findings provide useful information for palliative care nurses working with Aboriginal peoples to ensure appropriate cultural understanding and an informed response to practice.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Cultural Characteristics*
  • Data Collection
  • Death*
  • Humans
  • Northern Territory
  • Oceanic Ancestry Group*