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Why do you keep talking to a dead person?  Continuing Bonds…

Why do you keep talking to a dead person? Continuing Bonds…

by Chaplain Julia Rajtar, MAPS, BCC

“My loved one died a year ago, and I still say goodnight to their photo.”  “I find myself being a cemetery person, since my son died 4 years ago. It helps me feel close to him.”  “I have a table in my home with several photos of my wife and our life together along with some memorabilia.  It’s a way of keeping her near.”

“A person does not always have to be present for us to feel connected. When the absence is the result of a death it is necessary to change the nature   of the relationship rather than letting it go.”

– Phyllis R. Silverman

 

What’s wrong with these people, that they can’t let go of their deceased loved one?  It is perfectly normal and natural that they want to remain close in these ways.  According to Klass, Silverman, and Nickman, who authored, Continuing Bond: New Understanding of Grief, 1996, there is nothing pathological about this behavior, continuing bonds provides a healthy coping and adapting to grief. Survivors of grief find places for the dead in their lives and sometimes in their communities.  “Such bonds are not denial’, the deceased can provide resources for enriched functioning in the present.”

 

Culture Informs Our Understanding

Culturally, we believed that the only way for someone to move forward in their grief after a death, is to fully cut themselves off from the relationship of the person who died.  That might be helpful for some, but continuing bonds suggests that it is not true for others.  People who have been an important part of our lives, are always in our lives, even after death.  The relationship with our deceased loved one is dynamic, changing after death, as we grieve, and continues to evolve throughout our lives, changing along with us, as we continue to age.

 

Ways We Hold On

Continuing bonds can look like holding on to items or continuing daily habits.  A bereaved husband talked about always cleaning up the kitchen, having the dishes done every night before bed, because his wife used to do so.  Conversations with our loved ones are another example.  A bereaved wife said she would go to the hunting land her husband bought, just she, all by herself, in an effort to feel closer to him.  Another wife shared that she would not allow anyone else to mow the lawn for her, that she took that duty on because her spouse used to do it, and it was a way for her to feel his presence.  These behaviors are natural for those who are grieving and adapting to a life without their loved one in it.

 

It is acceptable to continue a relationship with the deceased after they have died.  The relationship will be very different of course, but if it brings comfort and helps you cope with your grief, please continue and allow that bond that you shared, to evolve and sustain you, in your sorrow and adapting to a world without your loved one.  And please let others know that researches have shown that continuing bonds with our deceased loved ones is perfectly normal and natural.

 

 

Resources

Book:

Continuing Bonds, New Understandings of Grief, edited by Dennis Klass, Phyllis R. Silverman, and Steven L. Nickman, 1996, by Taylor and Francis Group, LLC.

8 Comments

  • Kathy Posted March 7, 2021 8:48 pm

    Oh I am looking to talk to a person going thru the same thing I’m a smart woman but my husband dying is kicking my butt I’ve tried everything nothing is working ?

    • Jm Posted March 22, 2021 6:03 am

      I totally understand. My husband passed three weeks ago and I am still in disbelief. I like your u am an intelligent woman and my butt is also getting kicked. I reach out a lot to friends and family which seems to give me temporary solace. We need to hang in and soldier on for ourselves and our loved one. Stay strong. 🥲

  • Barbara Flannagan Posted April 19, 2021 10:20 am

    I know my husband died on Feb 11 2021 we were together 45 years and this is the hardest thing I have ever been through

  • penni Ann seitz Posted April 25, 2021 9:34 am

    Kathy I know how you feel my wife died April 11 of 2021 and I have have been talking to her on and off for days..I am a believer in God..and I know that I will see her again but until then I try to tell her how I feel about her and how much I miss her and also how mad I am at her because she was supposed to help me learn to drive but never did so i tried to teach myself and i ended up falling out of a truck and hitting the ground and then the truck ran backwards over my leg..anyway not something i am proud of ..so even though it’s been rough and i have learned that i can be hard headed and stubborn I still love her very very much and I was looking on sites to make friends because I am feeling lonely because I moved to a different state to be with her I felt guilty even looking for friends because I only found people in other things other then friendship so kathy I know what your going through

  • Mziwethemba Mahlangeni Posted May 3, 2021 2:13 pm

    I would like to know more about speaking to the dead people. Will you give me more information about this.
    Thank you

  • khethelo lebo Posted May 10, 2021 1:52 pm

    I have the same feeling like you guys. Taking care of his belongings like sellers,photos and garden tools makes me feel that he is here. When missing him I take his phot and tell him everything I wanted to tell him. That makes me feel better.lets take one step at a time We will heal.

  • Michael H, Posted May 19, 2021 1:36 am

    I welcome any one side relationship with who is my best friend and the one I trust most. Yes, I feel she is talking to me and I feel that I cannot live one day without mention her name. Her name is music to my ears, inspiration to my existence and it is my medicine to help me to survive. life. You may call me crazy while i can prove to you that I am the most sane person in your world..

  • Rachel Posted May 21, 2021 3:57 pm

    My partner died 3 days ago and i feel so lost we were together for 12years i talk to him everyday and sleep with one of his tshirts that still has his scent on it and a photo of him so i can feel him close to me

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