Academic journal article Journal of Psychology and Christianity

Guest Editors' Page

Academic journal article Journal of Psychology and Christianity

Guest Editors' Page

Article excerpt

In 1917, when Freud first focused his psychoanalytic lens on the process of mourning, his beloved daughter Sophie had not yet perished in the devastating influenza pandemic that had global impact in the waning months of World War I. In his now classic paper, Mourning and Melancholia, Freud contrasts the grief process following the loss of a loved one, when emotional energy is redirected from investment in the external relationship to internal identification with the loved one (mourning); and the complicated bereavement associated with emotional loss (melancholia).

Adelman & Malawista (2013) cite a moving letter to Binswanger on the 36th birthday of Sophie, a full nine years after her death in 1920. From the posthumous publication of the correspondence (E. L. Freud, 1961), the letter reads,

Although we know that after such a loss the acute state of mourning will subside, we also know we shall remain inconsolable and will never find a substitute.. .and actually this is how it should be. It is the only way of perpetuating that love, which we do not want to relinquish. (p. 386)

This very human and revealing letter embodies what all of us who have experienced loss can attest; grief and mourning is complex, nuanced, and enduring. …

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