Sibling Bereavement and Continuing Bonds

Pacific Graduate School of Psychology, Palo Alto, California, USA.
Death Studies (Impact Factor: 0.92). 12/2006; 30(9):817-41. DOI: 10.1080/07481180600886603
Source: PubMed


Historically, from a Freudian and medical model perspective, emotional disengagement from the deceased was seen as essential to the successful adaptation of bereavement. A major shift in the bereavement literature has occurred and it is now generally accepted that despite the permanence of physical separation, the bereaved remains involved and connected to the deceased and can be emotionally sustained through continuing bonds. The majority of literature has focused on adults and on the nature of continuing bonds following the death of a spouse. In this article, the authors demonstrate how the continuing bonds concept applies to the sibling relationship. We describe the unique continued relationship formed by bereaved children and adolescents following a sibling loss, highlight the factors that influence the siblings continuing bonds expressions, and offer clinical interventions. In our view, mental health professionals can play an important role in helping parents encourage activities that may facilitate the creation and maintenance of continuing bonds in their children.

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    • "The study was also informed by the concept of continuing bonds in grief (Klass, Silverman, & Nickman, 1996). Earlier notions of grief as a process of severing bonds or connections with loved ones after death have been shown to be inaccurate; rather, finding a way to live with grief typically occurs within a context of continuing or ongoing bonds between the survivor and the deceased (Klass et al., 1996; Packman et al., 2006). The bonds with deceased siblings continue for a lifetime even with the permanence of the physical loss (Forward & Garlie, 2003). "
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    ABSTRACT: An arts-based qualitative method was used to explore the experiences of children's bereavement after a baby sibling's death, in the context of their family and school life. Data were collected during in-depth interviews with 9 bereaved children and 5 parents from 4 Canadian families and analyzed. A central process, evolving sibling relationship over the years, and a pattern of vulnerability/resilience, ran through all four themes, which reflected ideas of connection, impact of parental grief, disenfranchisement and growth. Findings indicated that home and school are critical to children in creating safe spaces for expressing the evolving nature of infant sibling bereavement.
    Death Studies 12/2014; 39(4). DOI:10.1080/07481187.2014.991954 · 0.92 Impact Factor
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    • "High levels of dependency, in combination with interpersonal conflict or loss, are also associated with depression (Johnson et al., 2002, 2008; Nietzel and Harris, 1990). Closeness and conflict between the bereaved and deceased before loss are aspects of the quality of a relationship that appear to be important to the grief response (Holland and Neimeyer, 2011; Packman et al., 2006; Servaty-Seib and Pistole, 2006). In one of the only studies specifically focused on relationship closeness with the deceased in young adults, high level of closeness was associated with negative social changes and academic consequences and mental health problems in bereaved college students (Walker et al., 2011Y2012). "
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    ABSTRACT: Young adults experience problematic responses to loss more often than is commonly recognized. Few empirical studies have examined the contribution of intrapersonal and interpersonal characteristics to grief and depression in bereaved young adults. This study investigated the association of dependency and quality of the relationship with the deceased (i.e., depth and conflict) with complicated grief (CG) and depression. Participants were 157 young adults aged 17 to 29 years who experienced loss of a family member or close friend within the past 3 years (mean = 1.74 years). Participants completed the Inventory of Complicated Grief, Beck Depression Inventory, Depth and Conflict subscales of the Quality of Relationships Inventory, and the Dependency subscale of the Depressive Experiences Questionnaire. Relationships among dependency and interpersonal depth and conflict and CG and depression were examined through analyses of covariance. Sixteen percent of participants met criteria for CG and 34% had mild to severe depression. Dependency and depth were independently related to CG and dependency was related to depression, but the pattern of associations was somewhat different for each outcome. Greater depth was associated with CG, at both high and low levels of dependency. High levels of dependency were related to more depressive symptoms. Interpretation of the findings is limited by the relatively small sample size and cross-sectional design. CG and depression are related but distinct responses to loss. Although dependency is associated with both CG and depression after loss, relationships between the bereaved and deceased that are characterized by high levels of depth are particularly related to the development of CG symptoms.
    Journal of Nervous & Mental Disease 06/2014; 202(7). DOI:10.1097/NMD.0000000000000155 · 1.69 Impact Factor
    • "This is not to suggest that schools – and teachers – should, in all instances, become the principal bereavement support initiatives. Indeed, Packman et al. (2006) affirm that 'school, and continuing with normal activities can be powerful tools that help children cope by modulating their grief' (p. 832), so the provision of a familiar routine can be a support in itself. "
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    ABSTRACT: Every 22 minutes in the United Kingdom, a child is bereaved of a parent, making up some 24,000 a year. An even greater number experience the loss of a grandparent. There is a limited, but growing, body of research into the impact of grief and bereavement on young children and how their support needs might be met. This article expands upon research with primary school teachers articulating something of their knowledge and experience in encountering bereaved children. The mixed methodology research includes quantitative and qualitative data that incorporate teachers’ responses to the fictionalised narrative of a bereaved 6-year-old. The discussion elucidates teachers’ confidence – or reluctance – in broaching the topic, highlighting the lack of specific training within teacher education for understanding and supporting bereaved children. Compassionate understanding is offered to some children, but many others detect a wall of silence, which, when encountered in early childhood, can have detrimental consequences for their personal, social and academic development. The article calls for policy and practice that will ameliorate this situation.
    Journal of Early Childhood Research 06/2013; 11(2):95-107. DOI:10.1177/1476718X12466201
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