Continuing Bonds: Shifting the Grief Paradigm

Understanding Grief Understanding Grief / I am grieving : Litsa Williams

Last week we got a request for the next installment in our series on different grief theories. I have to say, I was giddy to get this request, as I always get a little nervous that when we talk grief theory (no matter how light and accessible we make it), your eyes glaze over, you shut your WYG browser window, and jump over to TMZ for some celeb gossip.  Now that I know at least one of you wants to know what the ‘professionals’ are saying about grief, I feel totally reinvigorated to get this series back on track.

If you have been following along with this series, you may have noticed that many of the models we have tackled have a couple things in common.  First, whether the model suggests stages, tasks or processes, all these theories share a very linear structure.  Even when being told you might jump between stages or tasks, it was hard not to feel like your grief was supposed to flow nicely through stages and come to an endpoint.  Second, these theories all describe a final phase that give a sense of closure, detachment from the loss, or moving on. This may sound familiar to you, from the famous “acceptance” that closes Kubler-Ross’s Five Stages or the reference to a “new life” that is echoed in both Worden and Rando’s theories.

If these ideas of acceptance, closure, reinvestment of energy, and embarking on a ‘new life’ have ever rubbed you the wrong way, you are not alone.  It was only a matter of time before someone stood up and yelled, I don’t need to put my loved one in the past and reinvest my energy in a new life in order to be healthy and well-adjusted!  Come on, we were all thinking it, right?!  When I say someone yelled, I mean some grief academics did what grief academics do – they quietly published a book.  That book was released in 1996 and was called Continuing Bonds: New Understandings of Grief (Death Education, Aging and Health Care) and its ideas were both obvious and revolutionary, all at once.

The authors, Klass, Silverman, and Nickman, explicitly questioned the dominant models of grief.  The book suggested that perhaps these linear models, ending in a detachment from the person we’ve lost, were denying a reality of how many people grieve.  They suggested a new paradigm, rooted in the observation of healthy grief that did not resolve by detaching from the deceased, but rather in creating a new relationship with the deceased.

Here is the 30 second summary: under this model, when your loved one dies grief isn’t about working through a linear process that ends with ‘acceptance’ or a ‘new life’, where you have moved on or compartmentalized your loved one’s memory.  Rather, when a loved one dies you slowly find ways to adjust and redefine your relationship with that person, allowing for a continued bond with that person that will endure, in different ways and to varying degrees, throughout your life.   This relationship is not unhealthy, nor does it mean you are not grieving in a normal way.  Instead, the continuing bonds theory suggests that this is not only normal and healthy, but that an important part of grief is continuing ties to loved ones in this way.   Rather than assuming detachment as a normal grief response, continuing bonds considers natural human attachment even in death.

At this point you are probably thinking one of two things: YES! Absolutely! Of course we maintain bonds forever.  It is crazy to think we sever ties and start a whole new life.  Or, alternately, you are thinking: What-the-whaaa?  What does it mean to ‘continue bonds’ and doesn’t that mean we are trapped in our grief forever?  Isn’t that miserable?  Won’t it keep me from ‘finding closure’ and ‘moving on’??

Both of these reactions are completely understandable.  You may even be feeling a little bit of both.  Lucky for us, Klass, Silverman, and Nickman’s book fleshes out the theory of continuing bonds and the literature that has followed has given TONS of examples and suggestions of the many healthy and helpful ways we maintain bonds with people we have lost.

Klass considers other cultures and the relationship with the dead, specifically looking at the Japanese and their ongoing bonds with deceased ancestors.  Silverman, Nickman, and others continue the discussion, looking at children and their responses to loss.  Without preconceived ideas that they should “let go” or “move on”, children regularly find ways to maintain relationships with those who have died, be it through dreams, inspiration they find from the person who died, or viewing themselves as the legacy of a parent who died.   Several other writers consider continuing bonds in widowhood, looking at the relationship between widows and their deceased spouses, and normalizing this ongoing relationship with the deceased even when a widow remarries.

When we think about this in practical terms, you can probably think of many helpful and healthy ways that you continue bonds with your loved one.  Many of them are things that will always be a part of your life, and that is a-okay!  From ongoing rituals to honor and remember someone, to thinking about what advice a loved one would have given you, to living your life in a way your loved one would be proud of, there are countless normal and meaningful ways we maintain bonds.

With research and case examples, the continuing bonds theory fundamentally changed the way we conceptualize grief (and when I say ‘we’, I mean ‘grief professionals’.  I suspect this has been intuitive to grievers for thousands of years!).  Rarely now in the professional world of grief do we hear people suggesting that people disengage from the person they lost.  Finding ways to continue relationships is understood as meaningful and the concept has been incorporated into many other theories (especially obvious in Worden’s renaming of his 4th task of mourning in the most recent edition of his book to read: ‘finding an enduring connection with the deceased while embarking on a new life’.  I still don’t love that whole ‘new life’ language, but still a dramatic improvement).

So that’s the good news.  The bad news?  Most “regular” people haven’t gotten the memo yet.  The old school models of detachment and letting go still run deep in our pop culture and our societal expectations.  Hence the insensitive comments from people telling you that you need to “move on” or “find closure”.   As a grief blogger, I have to believe that if we just keep talking about this, eventually society at large will catch up!

Need some more inspiration on the many ways you can continue bonds with your loved one?  Keep an eye out for an upcoming post on that very topic.  Subscribe so you don’t miss it.

Let’s be grief friends.

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46 Comments on "Continuing Bonds: Shifting the Grief Paradigm"

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  1. Lisa Bogatin  February 17, 2014 at 11:49 am Reply

    Seems like we are definitely on the same wave length.

    Larry Lynn and myself started a website called :
    The premise is based on exactly what you are sharing in your blog.
    Like Mitch Albom said in his book: Tuesday’s With Morrie ,
    “Death ends a life, not a Relationship”

    The heart of AfterTalk is “Private Conversations”.
    You can continue to write your deceased loved ones, privately,
    on an ongoing basis sharing life’s highlights, joys, frustrations.
    Our by line is” “Write, Share, Always There”.

    Please read Wendy Epstein’s blog, January 2014.
    She writes for the first time to her husband who is deceased 20+ yrs.
    Her blog is titled: “Let me tell you about our Children”
    When he committed suicide he left her with a 4 yr. old and a 11 month old.

    This is a wonderful example of how relationships, in a new/different form,
    continue. And thus, illustrate exactly what you are saying about “Human
    attachment even after Death”.

    Bravo, well written and well said.

    Thank you,
    Lisa Bogatin

  2. Kiri  February 17, 2014 at 12:14 pm Reply

    So true that the existence of these theories hasn’t filtered through to the general culture yet. I saw a piece of research last week for health care providers that used the Kubler Ross model when describing patients living with a debilitating disease. Acceptance was even denoted with a smiley face! I felt immediate anger that these people’s ongoing situation was being categorised in such a blithe way. As mist people only have a rudimentary understanding of even that theory, it affects what they expect of grievers.

  3. Kiri  February 17, 2014 at 12:16 pm Reply

    Your website sounds like a very interesting idea, i will check it out!

  4. Karen Capucilli  February 17, 2014 at 1:57 pm Reply

    This is spot on for me. Two thoughts.

    Maybe having a relationship with loved ones who’ve passed feels so natural to me because of losing a child. For me, there just was no choice. I was not going to compartmentalize or move on from my child.

    My mother lost her father at age 11. She’s now in her 70s. There is hardly a conversation we have where she doesn’t talk about him. Additionally, during holidays, it felt like relatives who died were sitting at the dining room table with us because it wasn’t taboo to talk about them,

    This grief model works well for me.

  5. Jimmy  February 17, 2014 at 2:22 pm Reply

    Excellent piece thank you. As a grieving parent of three years now I had myself to get over the expectation that sooner or later I would get over my sons death and forget him. It turns out that I haven’t gone mad or maudlin or melancholic as a result of my efforts to stay in touch with him, to continue and nurture my new relationship with him. Neither did I have or know of any other models and I don’t have a degree in grief – my natural response has been not to forget – I cannot forget but it has been nearly as hard to endure friends and other family members distaste of my grief as it is the loss if my son. I have also found that among other bereaved parents my feelings are found to be completely normal not to say healthy. But you are right society in general still believes otherwise which is a shame because this causes a lot of unnecessary hurt among us grievers. Please see for some of the ways we have attempted to explore this new relationship with my son Joshua. Thank you

  6. Louisa Hill  February 17, 2014 at 3:33 pm Reply

    Thank you so much! This article confirms what I have believed and adhered to since the honegoing of my husband almost three years ago. I remember saying to my pastors shortly after my husband’s death, ” I can still talk to him”! My pastor didn’t respond at that time, but later, at the funeral, he made the comment that we shouldn’t talk to the dead and shared a story about his brother having a frightening experience when he visited his mother’s grave site. I was very upset with him because of that and a few other things he did that my daughter and I didn’t appreciate. It was so traumatizing to me that for awhile I didn’t visit my husband’s grave, and I felt guilty about talking to him or writing to him. Thank God, I began therapy with a wonderful counselor who assured me that it is ok for me to talk to my husband and to write to him. So, I began to write and talk to him daily and to begin writing our life story for our future grandchildren. Now, I’m guilt free and enjoying that my relationship with my husband continues, and I’m not crazy or weird. Thank you again. Your article will set many people free. Blessings!

  7. Alana  February 17, 2014 at 4:14 pm Reply


    I can’t thank you enough for this blog, and all the other blogs yourself and Eleanor post! I am a fourth year social work student and I have just recently studied a unit on grief and loss. I came across your website and it has been just the best resource for helping me understand models, learn more about grief and loss, and of course have a laugh along the way.
    One of our assignments focused specifically on the models of grief and loss, and the differing theories that you have spoken about here; the change from ending bonds (Kubler-Ross/Worden) to the concept of continuing bonds (Klass, Silverman and Nickman). I have shared your page and blogs with my fellow students as it is the perfect resource for concreting the information we have been learning!
    Thank you again for providing such a helpful, enjoyful page (even if it is on the topic of grief and loss!). I have also found it helpful for my own personal grieving process following the death of my Grandfather recently. Keep up the fantastic work :).

    Alana. xx

  8. Lisa  February 17, 2014 at 6:11 pm Reply


  9. Litsa  February 19, 2014 at 7:29 am Reply

    Alana, thank you so much for your comment! It means so much to us to know our site is actually helpful for people. Thanks also for sharing our site with others- we rely on word of mouth for people to learn about us, so we appreciate you spreading the word!

  10. Litsa  February 19, 2014 at 7:36 am Reply

    Oh Louisa, I am so sorry your pastor said that! Unfortunately, even people we trust with our grief can say the wrong thing. So glad you found a counselor who has been helpful for you.

  11. Keli Burfield  February 21, 2014 at 11:27 pm Reply

    This really helps. My mother died in September 2012, I was with her and my dad the last three months. My sister is “she’s gone and in heaven and that’s it”. Dad and I are yes, she’s in heaven and at the same time somehow she’s still very near. Dad talks to her and still has the Christmas tree up. I have my own memory tree that I put up. Her picture sits on the landing so it’s the first thing I see as I come down and the last thing at night. I still tell her good night from time to time just as I did those last days. I had many issues as a child that I’ve spent a lot of time healing from as an adult. Those issues kept me away from home. I’m just so thankful I could be there at the end. So not having the memories my sister has, I think is one reason I so desperately need Mom to still be here. Even though I have a firm belief she is also in the presence of the Lord. This theory gives me reassurance that I’m not crazy and it’s okay. THANK YOU!

  12. Chelsea Hanson  February 22, 2014 at 5:48 pm Reply

    Wonderful Information! Please check out Ashley Davis Bush’s books called: “Transcending Loss” if you haven’t already, as she talks about having an ongoing relationship with the person who died, because your relationship continues in a new way, just as your love continues. She encourages ongoing dialogue and redefining the relationship as well. You will love this information, if you aren’t already familiar with her work. Ashley is speaking on March 18th of the upcoming Grief Healing Summit.

    • Louise  February 6, 2017 at 12:05 am Reply

      I finally got the Davis Bush book and agree that it has a refreshing focus on continued relationships with our deceased loved ones. However, she does use the terms “move/moving on” and “accept” and “reinvest” and “new life” a good deal more than I felt comfortable with. Maybe I’m just too grief-stricken at the moment to cope with anything that smacks of having to leave my husband of 30 years behind.

  13. SarahBerner  March 25, 2014 at 10:02 am Reply

    After losing my son 7 years ago, i got a tattoo of his footprint from his birth certificate on my chest, next to my hearst. i also keep a bit of his ashes in a locket that hangs near my heart. The tattoo may not be appealing to a lot of people, but it is a tremendous help to me ( my 1st and only tattoo at age 50), i find it is very helpful to have a permanent outside symbol of what i feel inside. his birthday is extremely painful for me, because it was such a joyous day, and i was there with him. i was not there when he died, and it happened the Tuesday of thanksgiving week, exactly two weeks before his 30th birthday. i have vivid dreams of him almost every night, and often feel his presence when i am awake. when people ask me about having kids i include him in my answer as if he is still here, because he always will be. he’s 37 years old now. I cannot speak of him without crying, still, and sometimes i go in the shower and scream so it will be less audible to other people.

  14. Karen Capucilli  March 25, 2014 at 4:51 pm Reply

    Your tattoo sounds absolutely beautiful. I love what you wrote – so beautifully expressed.

  15. Litsa  May 6, 2014 at 3:34 pm Reply

    Us too!

  16. Kristen  July 19, 2014 at 6:53 pm Reply

    This is so beautifully stated! Thank you for sharing this Litsa ♥
    My partner died in a car accident on April 7th 2013 and I have been struggling horribly. I have been reading Transcending Loss by Ashley Davis Bush as Chelsea had mentioned. It has given me a sense of….sense. If that makes sense 🙂 i have only a therapist for support so I’m so grateful for finding this site.

    • Eleanor  July 20, 2014 at 2:59 pm Reply


      We’re so glad you found us. I’m sorry about the death of your partner, it’s a struggle to find any peace or clarity in such a tragedy. I’m glad you have found a few resources that resonate with you. Hang in there, we’re there if you have any specific questions or if there are any topics you’d like to see addressed.

      Eleanor and Litsa

      • Kristen  July 20, 2014 at 7:11 pm

        Thank you Eleanor and Lista for responding to my post. It’s been so hard on my own. I’ve tried other sites a few months after the accident, but none fit my situation. See i was in the passengers seat while my boyfriend was driving. The sudden death and guilt of being alive still…. thank you again for having this site. I will continue to explore for sure ♥

  17. Kristen  July 20, 2014 at 7:13 pm Reply

    Also i have ordered Continuing Bonds. I’m looking forward to getting and reading it

  18. Chelsea Hanson  August 29, 2014 at 1:38 pm Reply

    Just read you post again! I think had I had the 30-second version of the continuing bonds explanation early in my grief journey, it would have made a difference in my initial grief experience in losing my mom close to 18 years ago. Not until I learned about “transcending loss” and that is was “okay” to have our relationship work in a new and different way, did things really make more sense to me. I wish every bereaved person could get this 30 second version. Let me know when you book is coming out! 🙂 Your info and approach is outstanding!!
    Chelsea Hanson

    • Louise  January 19, 2017 at 1:17 am Reply

      Fortunately, Chelsea, I found out about Continuing Bonds relatively soon after my beloved husband died. It was incredibly heartening to me to know that while I know I need to move through my grief, I do not have to “let go” (ugh, I loath that platitude) of a relationship with him altogether. I’m going to get the book you recoomended too. <3

  19. Chris Cavalieri  December 31, 2014 at 10:09 am Reply

    This is the basis of the free Tradition Program that Family Lives On provides to all children and teens whose mother or father has died. We make it possible for them to continue to celebrate traditions or activities they used to do with Mom or Dad. We arrange, purchase and pay for a tradition for each child in the family to promote intra family communication and connect while maintaining the continuing emotional bond. And we do it every year until they turn 18 and graduate out of our program. Then we are supporting them and asking – how will you do this for yourself? For the rest of your life? We serve any where in the United States. If you know a family who can benefit, please encourage them to enroll at (Family Lives On is a 501(c)(3) non profit.)

  20. Dana  January 6, 2015 at 9:54 am Reply

    I read part of a book several months ago that bridges this topic. If it means further healing, I want to embrace it, but a big part of me is almost disgusted by the idea. I did go through a time in the first year where I spoke to my deceased husband often (it’s been almost 4 years since he passed), and sometimes I still tell him I miss him. I also write poetry about him or to him from time to time that I share on a poetry forum. My close friends/family don’t know about that. I just can’t (or don’t know how to) embrace this type of thing. The book I mentioned above proved to be too triggery for me. At the time, honestly, it kind of pissed me off. But I think a big part of my opposition to it is that it’s just completely different from how society tells/expects us to deal with grief. I feel like it some ways I am dealing with my grief in the way this article speaks (continuing bonds), but in others, I’m not if that makes sense. Maybe I really am, just more in a private way. I feel sort of lost in this area and honestly don’t think I could handle reading a book on the subject (maybe I’m just not ready for it). Any advice or suggestions are appreciated.

    • Eleanor  January 6, 2015 at 12:27 pm Reply

      Hey Dana,

      I think many of us “continue bonds” with our loved one is small and private ways. These things are often not deliberate acts that we think of as continuing bonds, but just stuff we do. We wrote a post about this here that may resonate a little with the ways in which you continue your bond with your late husband

      All that being said, we all grieve differently and if this idea doesn’t resonate with you then that’s okay. This is just one grief theory of many many others. If you’re interested we discuss several others in different posts that you can find here. And even within a grief theory like this, there are going to be parts that don’t match our experience. Similarly, although society does often tell us that grief looks a certain way, what we know is that this is often not a complete or true reflection of how most people grieve. It’s important to remember that there is no “normal” and what is comfortable to one person may be totally weird to another.

      I’m not sure that this was helpful at all, please let us know if there’s any specific suggestions or questions we can help with.


  21. Vicki Bee  January 29, 2016 at 11:58 am Reply

    I haven’t been able to do that yet. I haven’t even been able to believe ‘beyond the shadow of a doubt’ that he’s even gone. I don’t know why but it has something to do with never receiving his earthly remains even as much as some other people who suffered the same circumstances. I know of other people who lost their loved ones on September 11. One of them received ‘verification of his physical death’ via a piece of the watch he was wearing when the plane crashed. A huge part of the watch he was wearing survived the crash but none of his body did. DNA on the watch matched the DNA sample of his hair or saliva that his wife gave the FBI.
    Another lady’s remains of her husband was way more macabre – they found his arm in the rubble of the South Tower – and the DNA matched what his wife had given them. She called herself “the luckiest of the unlucky” to have gotten a confirmation of his death.
    But our family and scores of others have to this day received no confirming match of DNA to anything at the site of the attack, so they have a Death Certificate that’s known as ‘In absentia.’ It’s a legal form but it’s technically an unconfirmed death, a death in absentia because no bodily evidence matches our DNA samples.
    In the early days I constantly dreamed that he wasn’t really dead, that he comes back and reads his own death certificate and that he’s upset at everyone who thinks he’s dead. After they found Osama bin Laden that dream disappeared almost completely. But every so often I still dream he isn’t really dead and almost believe it at least while I’m asleep. And more infrequently, have even pondered the idea when I was awake.
    There’s nothing like not receiving earthly remains to f** up the entire process; IMO. If part of your mind keeps insisting the person is somehow alive there’s no way you can move in any positive productive direction with grief.
    I wish I knew why the mind keeps doing that so I could possibly overcome it.
    Something about their finding Osama bin Laden made it seem more real even though we still have no confirmation. That was the event that made it possible to start the process of grieving.

  22. Kellilee Williams  October 7, 2016 at 5:33 pm Reply

    Since 12-14-13 I lost my husband of 27 years. And since that date I have lost another 7 people close to me in this time frame until now. It has not been easy in anyway, but I am learning to come through the feelings of loss even though my heart is and will always be broken.

  23. Nancy  October 8, 2016 at 12:35 am Reply

    Grief comes in waves for me. Sometimes lasts for days

  24. Louise  January 19, 2017 at 1:12 am Reply

    Thankyou once again, Litsa. I have the book Continuing Bonds; I love the term, and was so relieved to find out that my much-loved late husband and I can still have a relationship, but in a different form.

  25. Louise  January 19, 2017 at 1:54 am Reply

    Also, Litsa, just let me say your site ‘friggin’ rocks. It’s 11 weeks into my husband’s passing, and it’s been very easy to wonder if I’m defective because theories that are just “move on” and “let go” trotted out in more sophisticated nomenclature didn’t sit right with me, and in some ways they just upset me more. Frankly, I’ve had a crawful of “resolution” and ” closure.” This page is a powerful little vitamin for me today 🙂

  26. Rae  August 6, 2017 at 5:56 am Reply

    The phrase should be: ‘finding an enduring connection with the deceased while embarking on a DIFFERENT life’. Any one who has gone through grief knows the LAST thing you feel resembles ‘newness’. More like ‘worn-out ‘, ”exhausted ‘ ‘tired ‘ ‘battlescarred and battle weary”. One continues on a path with knowledge that is without naivety of pre-grief. Life can HURT, so bad, that you can NEVER look at a path through rose tinted lenses again. No, it is not a ‘new’ life, it is a different one, awareness of tragedy that can lurk behind the very next twist or turn changes ones perspective and caution in investment of time, emotions or energy permeates every step onward.

  27. Sharon Vard  September 4, 2017 at 8:40 am Reply

    Being a bereaved mother, this grief theory is one that has helped me through to that place where I can accommodate my grief and although I miss my daughter every single day, I have a relationship with her. That relationship is different to the relationship I have with my other two children, however the love and bond is ongoing.

  28. Dianne  November 9, 2017 at 3:35 am Reply

    I am dating a man that I have known for40 years and his deceased wife even longer. I lost my husband 10 years ago after a long illness and difficult legal circumstances. His wife died two year ago after a long 14 year coping with ovarian cancer, He has a shrine, he is having trouble finding new homes for her clothes, artwork that was going to be sold, her Facebook page is still active and her business website. He has tatoo’d her name and favorite flower on his arm and wears her ashes. There are pictures everywhere in a condo she selected knowing she was going. to die. She was open with him about her heath.
    Two ears have passed and he is not following the Kubler Ross grief reaction but as I see as a stronger bond with her. Tonight he will stay up until 1:24 the hour of her death and vows to do this the rest of his life. as far as our relationship goes it is mostly someone to travel with and have a friendship we live thousands of miles away and do manage to see each other every 6-8 weeks. He honors his deceased parents on their death and birth day by sending out memorials to his sons so they don’t forget their grand parents. He is now doing this for his wife. I am thinking this is the the new norm of grief. reading the above information helps me to see that grief parallels all actions in life because the relationship continues and meshes into after death life and relationships. I am giving him space because it is not healthy for me to grieve wth him through birthdays thanksgiving, Christmas and her death date. I knew her too we were friends from teenagers and it is always sad.he can’t have a relationship with a woman that lives close to him and is happy we live so far away. I guess the decision is continuing in a relationship that basically is a companion and accept his ongoing relationship with his wife. I am 67 and he is 71. I am not sure this would be healthy for me in the long run. He is a good man and his grief consists of having everything the way it was the day she died except now her ashes are in the shrine in the condo forever. There is no ‘moving forward’ but moving along side of her from what I have observed. You would have to be either very patient or not really wanting a loving relationship to be with a man that grief is a continuing relationship. How does a widower successfully keep one set of emotion in the present world yet respect and honor his deceased wife. It is not until death to us part. It is death and then we continue. a new way of looking at post death relationships. I live far away and have my own life but it seems like I accept the relationship or end it. New norm or not it is a love lost for both me and his deceased wife.

  29. Hilary Barker  January 30, 2018 at 6:12 pm Reply

    I am so glad to have found this site and article. I live in Britain. When my beloved husband died 14 months ago – suddenly and totally unexpected as he wasn’t ill, it was the most devastating shock as you can imagine – we had been together 46 years. I said straight away that the relationship continues but in a different way, and I continue to talk to him and also write a daily journal. I did this instinctively – in survival mode. The concept of moving on, letting go, saying goodbye etc as appears in many books on dealing with grief left me angry and I thought that either I was different from the norm, or these writers had all got it wrong. I realise that it is the latter. As everything was so sudden, the Humanist funeral was arranged in a rush and although I had the large input that I wanted, there was one phrase in the service which made me uncomfortable “We are gathered here to say goodbye….” No we are not. When I feel strong enough, I am going to raise this with the lovely lady who conducted the service and ask whether she would consider offering some other phraseology to the newly bereaved faced with a funeral. I think that the old thoughts and perceptions of loss and coping with grief need an overhaul, and your site addresses these issues extremely well. I am delighted to have found you! Thank you.

    • Ann Wynn  February 12, 2019 at 10:53 am Reply

      Hello Hilary – I am sorry for your loss and hope you are continuing to make progress in your changed circumstances. I too am in Britain and as a Celebrant who has lost count of the number of services I have delivered for bereaved families, I was interested to read your comment about ‘gathering to say goodbye’. I would be interested to hear from you with your thoughts about what might be more appropriate phraseology, now that the passage of time has allowed your thought processes to settle and discuss what I hope was a lovely sendoff for your husband. Ann x

  30. Kellilee Williams  February 14, 2018 at 5:15 pm Reply

    Thank you for bringing this to grieving people like myself. I miss my husband of 27 years everyday and talk to him its been 4 yrs and 3 months today!!!

  31. Helena Burnett  May 18, 2018 at 9:20 am Reply

    Three years ago we lost our darling daughter to breast cancer, she was thirty three. During her three year struggle with this insidious desease, we had one very strict rule, our daughter was never to attend a Doctor or treatment appointment on her own.
    During these appointments, we met with many social workers, who, with the best of intentions were happy to had out leaflets on how to deal with a loved one going through cancer treatment, I remember one saying she had to rush off to her hairdressing appointment and would catch us Monday, another young social worker about my daughters age, came dashing into her hospital room saying ” Hi are you up,for a bit of a chat ” my daughter was being administered morpheme for her pain, and I felt like screaming, is it any wonder my husband and I did not seek councilling when she passed. I believe I was meant to find your website, I am doing a lot of what has been suggested. For the last three years I have kept a diary, telling my daughter what her Dad and I have been doing, I even let her know when we have had a falling out, I know she would be laughing and telling me not to listen to him, it’s just Dad being Dad.
    I wrote a poem, “A Mother’s Grief” it’s mainly about how I was dealing with my grief, what family and friends would say to me. The last verse is what my daughter would say to me.
    Don’t cry Mum I hear you say,
    Love life and live for me, I’m part of everything you do
    I’m near, forever loving you.

  32. Laura Agnerian  November 19, 2018 at 9:46 am Reply

    This site was a Godsend at this time of grieving my beloved husband’s death ‘ due to complications at last stage Parkinson … I am feeling such remorse’ such guilt’ such self blame that somewhere somehow I could have taken some different decision and postponed or changed the outcome … The suggestion of getting over the bereavement’ after going through some grief stages does not apply for me’ …
    But this model of Continuing Bonds of grieving’ truly makes more sense for my emotional and psychological state of mind and heart …

  33. patti hirschberg  January 18, 2019 at 2:24 pm Reply

    Thank you. Feeling lighter: the burden of guilt i carry feels abit less crushing. Have often felt that the continuing bond, although absolutely necessary, is often an elusive and fluid concept. (25 partner’s recent death)…”connecting” with him often leaves such sadness, and sometimes i just wanna lighten up: necessary in making plans to move forward with any confidence. After i’m done connecting with him, his absence is palpable, and i’m so blatantly alone/empty ETC. And that provokes guilt: “Can’t even do THIS right?”

    • Doso  March 2, 2020 at 6:36 am Reply

      Hello here,any advise please?i go married to a man who lost his wife for 15yrs ago,he has 4 children first is 25 and the last born is 16yrs. and i have one of 18yrs ,when i met my husband he said that wants to move on with new life,and also i wanted to get out of single life,we started dating and finally we weeded,

      the first misunderstand we had was when i said to me that he will be taking his kids in another house he rent for them,i did not feel it right,for the kids living they home and i stay in,i suggested if we can move since we are starting new life,which also he did not like, he said he can not rent while he has a house,on this point he comes over the weekend because he works out of city.
      so finally i suggested to just let us live as a family or we hold on to the wedding,he said fine we can live together with kids but he added on that i may not manage his kids and i told him that will try my best and will be patient with them till the time comes when they will accept me,so we went on and set up a family,i was i wrong to let us stay with his kids?

      as life goes on he stared comparing me with his late wife in a negative way,he started telling me how bad i am,how i hate his wife,the wife i had never met in my life, i got sick he didn’t bather to check on,i had an accident he also did not show care i was left a lone in the house,and once we were in love action he told me that why am i jealous and i asked him jealous for who or for what,he said for his wife and i asked him which wife,and he said the mother of his kids,

      with this i could not handle anymore,as a lot had happened but i could keep pushing on,i decided to move out and start my life,i told him to first end his life with his late wife and decide to live with a living human being. i had suggested again to move out as a family since that house has a lot of memories but he didn’t respond,i felt like i am a second option,i felt rejected,i felt avoided,i felt useless,i felt all negative thoughts ,have i decided wrongly?

      Kindly advise me,

  34. Carol Mullen  February 3, 2019 at 4:05 pm Reply

    Today is a bad “missing John” day. Drove 17 hrs the last 3 days so the lack of distraction let the pain flow. I don’t fight it when it happens and I’m in a situation like that. It has been 2 years since my 30 yr old son’s sudden death. Oh my God it hurts.

  35. Suzanne Utts  March 11, 2019 at 9:57 am Reply

    This year has been more difficult grief-wise for me than the previous 2. The first year after my husband died from Alzheimers, I got very sick and was sick for almost 18 months, and I think that masked the grief somewhat as that year is a blur to me. Then last year I was living in a cabin on a mountain and I loved living there, however due to the aging process of my landlords and things not being kept up at the cabin by them (like removing 3 dead trees that could fall on the cabin), I knew it was time to move. So I bought a little condo in town, near my daughter. It all happened so fast. In October I knew I needed to move. Mid November, I made an offer on the condo and closed the deal Dec 14. In the meantime, both daughters asked me if I could watch their dogs because they were going abroad with their families to spend Christmas with their in-laws. (I didn’t object to that as their in-laws usually do not get Christmas with them and they are all in their 80’s.) However that meant Christmas was fragmented and the traditional things we did, didn’t happen. I was thankful for my landlords and still am as we are good friends so I spent Christmas across the driveway at their home. My daughters came home around New Years, and I started packing and moving. I moved in here Jan 7. It’s a nice place and I am thankful for it, but for weeks I would find myself driving back toward the mountain cabin after shopping and I would have to pull off somewhere and cry for awhile. I have cried more since mid October than I have cried in my entire life and I am 72. What is there to look forward to but old age? bleh. Being a widow is LONELY. I am not sitting at home kvetching. I go to church. I belong to a prayer group that meets once a week. I got to lunch etc with friends. I go once a month to a widow/widower dinner. I joined the Y and go to exercise/swimming class with a bunch of very lovely ladies. I am volunteering too. AND I have a darling dog who seems to understand my grief. But nothing fills the void. I miss my Chuck. Not a day goes by that I don’t miss him. I tell him so. Many years ago there was a man named Peter Marshall (not the tv personality). Marshall was the Chaplain of the Senate. He said “If our loved ones are with Christ, and if Christ is with us; then our loved ones are not very far away.” That helps me, but I am struggling. I think I am stuck. So I think I will go for some counseling. BTW, for anyone who loves to read, Peter Marshall’s wife was Catherine Marshall and she wrote a book “CHRISTY” about her mother who was a missionary in the early 1900s in Appalachia. It is MARVELOUS book. I need to get back to reading. For so long the brain fog just didn’t let me read. I could not concentrate. I am very slowly feeling like this condo is “home” though it doesn’t have the feel of the cabin. I am deliberately looking for the good things it does have like kind neighbors and convenient to everything.

  36. Geoff Houser  April 12, 2019 at 9:44 pm Reply

    Thankyou so much for posting this. I am currently reading Continuing Bonds and feel a major release. After a relatively long endeavor, I lost my beloved to brain cancer 5 years ago. I have read what I could find about loss and grief and this is the first theory that makes any sense to me. My feelings of loss endure and the pain still exists, yet now I have a much better understanding of my situation. There are reasons for the difficulties in “moving on”. Isn’t that a terrible phrase? Moving on from what? If it means moving on from the memories, from the joy and love of a loved one, the things that have given meaning to ones life, then this is a cruel expectation. A continuing bond is what all of us feel, so let us legitimize the concept and make it easier for all of those who are confronted with the loss of their loved ones. Bereavement is more than enough to swallow, bereavement without the support of one’s surroundings is devastating. Hopefully, with time the paradigm will shift to an acceptance of the continuing bond.

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