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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Available from: Robin Kramer, May 12, 2015
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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
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    • "From this perspective it becomes imperative for grief counsellors to conceptualize their clients from a socio-cultural and intra-personal perspective. While there has been something of a shift " from emotional disengagement and detachment " to working through the loss by " relearning the world in a way that helps one accommodate and live with the loss " (Packman et al 2006: 819), such approaches are, however, still largely bereft of religio-cultural narratives and beliefs that are able to potentially contribute to models of grief, coping and meaning making. For Neimeyer, meaning making or reconstruction within the (unpredictably ) unfolding process of mourning, is moreover central to the healing process, where the understanding is that one's assumptive world is radically disrupted by a major loss. "
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    ABSTRACT: Death and bereavement are both unavoidable points along the imaginary of life, as we navigate lives that are punctuated by a seeming infi nite number of events, including the eventuality of death. For some individuals, religion appears to provide the theoretical and theological frameworks that constitute the multiple socially and culturally determined narratives through which one can make sense of the eventuality of death and loss. This sense-making often entails reconstructing and reassembling the grasp of the loss in a way that reaffi rms core theological beliefs about the self and world, and the world beyond. This paper is a theoretical engagement with the widely held conviction that religion and religious beliefs offer refl ective tools for accepting and coping with the death of a loved one and brings a critical gaze to the notion of " attachment " and " continuing bonds " within the context of the " Grief work " hypothesis. " Grief work Theory " puts forward a model for " detachment " and severing ties and bonds with the deceased to aid the process of coping with loss and grief, and suggests that this severing is essential for the process of healing, restoration and return to normality for the bereaved. However, the paper engages with the view that religious frameworks 72 and " death specifi c beliefs " offer a form of 'attachment' or 'continuing relationship' that is healthy and benefi cial rather than pathological, and is more in accordance with insights from later grief research and 'Continuing bonds Theory'. By peeling back the theoretical wrappings around the notion of attachment, more specifi cally within grief and death counselling, the paper attempts to lay bare a theological re-understanding and re-contextualisation of 'attachment' in the context of grief and bereavement, and bereavement counselling.
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