Monday, April 19, 2010

Continuing Bonds Theory

Most of the twentieth century was marked by the idea that people should get past the death of a loved one by detaching themselves emotionally. They could then free the energy they had expended towards the deceased and reinvest it elsewhere. In fact, failure to let go of a relationship towards the deceased was viewed as pathological grief.

Alternatively, Continuing Bond theory revolves around the idea that people maintain a relationship with those they have lost. According to the theory, people have a morphing continued relationship with the dead, finding a changed but still present place to situate the relationship in their lives. This phenomenon is not considered problematic, and in fact “the deceased can provide resources for enriched functioning in the present” (Klass, Silverman, and Nickman).

It is this precisely the presence of a bonds continued through Facebook wall posts that drew us to our research topic. Among other things, we would like to find out if continued bonds have evolved from a discouraged and unhealthy coping behavior to a social norm among Facebook wall-posters. To pinpoint this phenomenon, we will look at the presence of the second person in posts after death. If continued bonds exist, the usage of words like “you” and “your” should not drop significantly. We will also look at the difference between tenses before and after death. Continued use of present and future tense may indicate continued bonds but this assumption may require further investigation.


Continuing Bonds New Understandings of Grief. “About the Book.” Edited by Dennis Klass,Phyllis R. Silverman, and Steven Nickman. Philadelphia: Taylor and Francis, 1996.
“Continuing Bonds.” Encyclopedia of Death and Dying.

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