A Hospice Story

Continuing Bonds

Submitted by: Denise Torgerson - March 9, 2017

There was a death in our family recently. My husband's older brother had died. When I am out in the community, people stop to give condolences and ask "how is A..", my husband doing.

One day when asked, the answer that came out of my mouth even surprised me.

"Oh," I said, "he's okay. He likes to keep his dead people close to him."

My friend looked at me like I was crazy.

I'm not crazy. My husband does like to stay connected to the people in his life who have died.

Continuing Bonds is a grief theory that states that grieving is the process of assimilating the death into your life in a way that honors the relationship with the deceased.

In the past we talked about getting over our losses, moving on, like in some way we would forget our loved ones and that they would no longer be a part of our lives. A continued relationship was thought to be pathological.

Thankfully, this is no longer the case. Finally, counsellors and theorists understand that grief is not something that you "get over". The memories never go away. Instead grief is a process of honouring your loved one and your history together, while at the same time creating a new normal without your loved one in it.

My husband likes to keep his dead people close to him. Our family gatherings are richer because of the story telling. We have kept some of the traditions and have let go of others as our lives have changed.

Personally, I write my mom or my sister letters whenever I miss them.

The relationships continue. The experiences are integrated. Our grief, at times desperately painful, is an experience of grace and love.