Loss and Bereavement

Loss and Bereavement

Loss and Bereavement

Loss and Bereavement


"This book aims to provide students with an understanding of important theoretical perspectives and specific models of adaptation to loss. It is assumed that loss and change are normal processes that occur within a social and cultural context, and the reader is introduced to historical and cultural perspectives which illustrate the diversity of approaches to loss. Major theoretical perspectives are explored to enable students to understand their origins and influence. This is a comprehensive text describing the variety of approaches available to understand the process of loss and bereavement." Title Summary field provided by Blackwell North America, Inc. All Rights Reserved


It is evident that death and grief are too multisplendoured and
complex to be trussed up in the conceptual straitjacket of any
one discipline.

(Feifel 1998: 4)

This book is about loss, and specifically about how we investigate and attempt to understand the impact of loss by death on individuals, families and larger social groups on the one hand, and how individual and group factors shape our experience of loss on the other.

In past times, in many cultures, dying, death and bereavement were the province of the family, neighbours and priests or their equivalent. In some cultures, tasks such as laying out the corpse or keening over the body were undertaken by certain specialists who were usually paid for their services this is still true in many countries of the world - but they were typically members of the community and known to the family. Today, in much of the western world, death and the issues surrounding it have become professionalized and may incorporate the services of nurses, doctors, undertakers, psychologists and counsellors among others. The implications of these changes are among the issues we will consider in this book. Perhaps it is to the institutionalization of dying and death that we owe the development of the science of thanatology, whose scholars seek to explore and describe the issues in order to enhance our understanding and, it is to be hoped, our management of them.

That the study of bereavement and its associated phenomena is now an established subdiscipline of the psychosocial and clinical sciences is fitting for a topic which is both universal and deeply significant in human experience. The impact of significant loss by death results in the need for adaptation at both individual and group levels, and the process of such adaptation may be prolonged and painful. The means by which individuals and groups manage and contain the impact of bereavement, and the social and individual constructions of the 'right' and 'wrong' ways to accomplish the necessary adaptation are proving to be complex and demanding areas of study.

In the field of health, researchers and clinicians have noted the morbidity and mortality and the physical and psychosocial disturbances that accompany . . .

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