To Mourn the Loss of a Family Member, These People Chop Off Their Fingers

NOTE: Photos above may be too graphic for some readers and contain nudity. 

Losing a loved one is never easy. And although there is no proper way to deal with mourning or loss, cultures and religions around the world have developed various ways to cope and come to terms with death.

If you were to do a cross-cultural study, you’d see that the human expression of grief is universal. However, the ways people process it vary greatly. While some cultures react with a dignified and quiet response, others openly display their anguish.

In Papua, New Guinea, the Dani tribe, who mostly live in the Baliem Valley, were once notorious for cutting off segments of their fingers when a loved one passes. This ritual was done as a way to provide physical pain as a way of grieving, as well as to appease and chase away spirits.

When a family member would pass away, all related women voluntarily cut off a part of one of their fingers. This was done by wrapping a piece of string around the finger and then severing it off with an ax. The chopped off bit was then burned to ashes and kept in a sacred place.

Despite the fact that the practice has been banned, you can still see older tribe members with missing fingers.