Grief is an unavoidable human emotion we will all experience at some point in our lives. Historically, grieving individuals have been encouraged to “move on,” often feeling stigmatized if they have difficulty with this and continue talking about the deceased openly.
In the 1990’s research and literature began to explore and identify that many grieving individuals have difficulty integrating loss into their life, and in fact, many bereaved individuals continue to remain connected to the deceased. This connection to the deceased, also known as continuing bonds, is common, with over 60% (and possibly more) of people engaging in a form of continuing bonds (Jahn & Spencer-Thomas, 2014; Klugman, 2006).
There are many examples of continuing bonds such as: having dreams of the departed, feeling a sense of presence of the deceased, focusing on memories/photos of the deceased, visiting the grave, talking to the deceased, naming a child in honor of the deceased, visiting a medium, donating money in honor of the deceased, and a reoccurring spontaneous symbol related to the deceased. Overall, research has shown that continuing bonds are common and that as a whole are experienced as positive and comforting in the grief process, while there are some factors that may complicate people’s continuing bond experience (Jahn & Spencer-Thomas, 2014).
If you are experiencing grief; you are not alone. If you continue to think of, talk to, and dream of the person you’ve lost, you are not alone. Remaining connected to those we’ve loved and who’ve imprinted on our hearts is common and should not be stigmatized. If you would like more support and guidance in navigating this journey, and a place to feel safe sharing your experiences of continuing bonds please reach out to The Minnesota Clinic for Health and Wellness to schedule an initial appointment
with a therapist.
By Leigh-Ann Theophilos, Psy.D., LP, LADC, EMDR, RYT, TCTSY-F