Introductory chapters outline conceptual models for understanding adolescent grief and discuss the ethical issues of research in this area. Essays on particular forms of death and bereavement. Tackles recent manifestations of grief and research direction, including using technology to support grief, and bereavement following deaths of celebrities.
Balk, David E. “Special Issue on Bereavement, Outcomes and Recovery: Guest Editor’s opening remarks.” Death Studies 32.1 (2007): 1–5. DOI:
A memoir of dying is exceptionally wrenching because we know the end at the beginning, and so meet with an effortful, pulsing person who will soon be neither. Pages rarely tremble with such life as when expressing their author’s death.
Often, the memoir starts with a prominent author declaring the diagnosis in a major periodical (Hitchens in Vanity Fair; Sacks in the Times; Diski in The London Review of Books). The diagnosis is usually terminal cancer, whose time frame may lend itself to contemplation, though not to more extensive pursuits. Typically, the author recites the markers of tragedy: foreboding symptoms overlooked, a collapse, the condemning scans, the switch to the wrong side of the window between healthy and ill. Some writers embody Hitchens’s line about “living dyingly,” straining to remain themselves, expressing dark humor and secular defiance, downshifting from existential fears to the banal process of death. Others pore over what they’ve had, been, seen. Touchingly, both Judt and Sacks cite nostalgia for gefilte fish. Food—that first pleasure—can be so important at the end, even when it cannot be swallowed.
Bereavement is the state of being left behind when someone dies. There is a tension in the literature between positivist approaches that try to discern universal norms—and deviations from these norms—for the process of bereavement, and constructivist approaches that maintain that understandings of bereavement vary across time and space. The field of literature on bereavement in children and young people is shaped by this tension, coupled with a parallel debate about the concept of childhood. The psychological literature undoubtedly dominates, and is largely rooted in research in Western countries, on the death of someone close, mainly a parent or sibling. The literature on bereaved children in developed countries has developed with little reference to the literature on bereaved children in developing countries, which are likely to have very different patterns of mortality, as well as different traditions of mourning and attitudes to childhood. Some of the variation in ways in which bereaved children’s experiences are constructed is covered in another article in this series: . Within the Western psychological literature on bereavement, studies have developed from simple models that looked at the death as a single variable, to more complex approaches acknowledging the range of factors that might influence how a child or young person responds to that death. This article explores the largely Western literature on contemporary bereavement in childhood, looking at children, young people, and adults’ accounts of their experiences, before turning to theoretical approaches, and then outlining the literature on the outcomes of bereavement in this context. The article then looks at published works on the needs of children in these circumstances, guidelines for support in different contexts, and introduces debates on how to measure the effectiveness of this support. Finally, it looks at the literature on research with bereaved children and young people.
There are several anthologies or edited books of chapters on children’s experiences of bereavement, often incorporating suggested interventions. is an early example; and are useful handbooks on adolescents and children, respectively, and their encounters with death and bereavement. Both present essays from a number of contributors, looking at new research that has emerged during the early 21st century and how this can be incorporated into practice with children. From a UK perspective, is aimed at a similar audience of practitioners and researchers. Other, more general anthologies on grief (among people at all life stages) include specific chapters on children and young people. is the most recent handbook in a series of three, with chapters summarizing recent scientific research into the nature of grief and its treatment. Particularly relevant chapters are those on the physiological manifestations of grief in children (a relatively neglected area) and on a description of the Family Bereavement Program at Arizona State University. is structured in a similar way and includes chapters from key writers in the field, but with a stronger emphasis on practice. introduces a series of articles in a special edition of , exploring the usefulness or otherwise of the concept of “recovery” in theorizing bereavement in adults and children. Contributors to draw on social theory and anthropological approaches to provide an important introduction to these debates in the literature, in relation to both child and adult grief.
Essays from anthropological and sociological perspectives on understandings of grief, bereavement, support, and care. Useful introduction to debates often ignored in the psychological literature.
Neimeyer, Robert A., Darcy L. Harris, Howard R. Winokuer, and Gordon F. Thornton, eds. Grief and Bereavement in Contemporary Society: Bridging Research and Practice. New York: Routledge, 2011.
The problem is not a lack of spirituality, though. The problem is _how _to partake of earthly delights. Should one engage in pleasures at the end? Should one strive for lasting accomplishment? The answer depends on what haunted Kalanithi: How long have I got? The answer is so hard to find, harder still to admit. Paradoxically, time is precisely where our society errs in handling death, having licensed our doctors to extend existence, irrespective of the character of the additional weeks. Unfortunately, dying is something we are figuring out only through doing. And now perhaps through the telling, too.
As with affection, humans must analyse exactly what causes and sustains human grief before arguing that animals do not feel a comparable emotion. Grief is a reaction to the sudden absence of something or someone which caused happiness/satisfaction. The major difference is that cats show grief for someone who has been a close companion while humans show grief for a distant relative or at the death of a public figure. Cats simply lack the abstraction (and the memory capacity) that allows humans to grieve for someone we have never met or who has been absent from our life for a prolonged period of time.