Emotions & Challenges:

Continuing Bonds

During the first part of the twentieth century, the prevailing models and theories of grief suggested that mourners would flow nicely though “stages,” engage in grief “tasks” and eventually come to a place of closure, detachment from loss, or moving on. The bereaved were encouraged to “get past” the death of a loved one by detaching on an emotional level. Once freed from grief, a person could reinvest his or her energy elsewhere. Those unable to do this, might suffer from “pathological grief.”

In 1966 however, researchers Klass, Silverman, and Nickman challenged prevailing models of grief. They published a book called “Continuing Bonds: New Understandings of Grief. ”Their theory suggested that healthy grievers did not resolve grief by detaching from the deceased but by creating a new relationship with the deceased.

Their theory of Continuing Bonds, makes intuitive sense to most who have lost someone near and dear. The deceased do not disappear from our lives. They are still beloved members of our families, still beloved friends. We learn new ways to relate and relationships continue as we continue, grow, and evolve.