ABSTRACT

Classic western grief theory and therapy teaches that death is the end of the relationship between the living and the dead. It adds that a key task of grieving for the living is to work through their emotions towards the deceased and readjust their identity. According to the more recent theory of continuing bonds it is both normal and healthy for the living to maintain their relationship with the deceased after death. The task of grieving is to renegotiate a relationship that changes but continues after death. In both theories assumptions are made regarding emotions, identity, relationships or bonds, and the intricate interplay between these. In this chapter I examine these assumptions and will focus in particular on the problematic idea of presence, a fundamental assumption when it comes to emotions, relationships and identity.