Abstract

The dominant view on grieving processes throughout the twentieth century was based on the idea that grief’s purpose is to loosen and finally sever the bonds with the deceased in order to set oneself free (free to enter new relationships). An expanded view, which aims at a more complete and more complex understanding of grief, corrected the former approach by arguing in favor of continuing bonds. The expanded view certainly fits better the meaning of attachment relations in human life. So-called disenfranchised grief nonetheless reveals additional normative constraints in terms of (culturally varying) social control mechanisms taking effect with regard to expressions of grief. The present paper argues that duly considering the complex and ambiguous nature of grief, as well as its transformative power, requires challenging the standard view of disenfranchised grief. I propose an expanded view that is based on the idea that proponents of the standard view have failed to inquire into the equivocal meaning of a common conversation about “coping with grief” (getting over it vs. getting along with it). Arguing in favor of an expanded account of disenfranchised grief by following the second reading (“getting along with grief”) then requires acknowledging the inseparability of grief’s existential depth and social implications. With a view to this inseparability, it is argued that coping with grief is a public (or even political) affair instead of a merely private experience.

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Additional Information

ISSN
2374-555X
Print ISSN
2150-5756
Pages
pp. 178-207
Launched on MUSE
2017-03-15
Open Access
No
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