Models of grief: Continuing bonds
I'm not sure about my thoughts on an afterlife, but a few days ago I saw a post about Storm Dudley.
Buxton Weather Watch @buxtonweatherw
Hi all. A very active few days of weather ahead with both storm Dudley and storm Eunice producing disruptive winds.
Storm Dudley arrives today with winds strengthening to 50mph during the afternoon, to around 60mph by 6pm, this lasting through much of tonight and into Thursday. Showers at times during this period however no disruptive rain. Additional care needed if travel over higher routes is planned. However, not expecting storm Dudley itself to produce any major disruption
Just after Tim (Dudley) died, the Beast from the East hit. Tim loved snow, and would call me from downstairs in the shop to say "Snowing!" whenever a few flakes started. I left my village to head south before the roads closed, and just managed to get back a few days later, after being pampered and cosseted by my sister. I remember vividly standing in snowdrifts and looking up at the sky, saying, "Darling, I know God has put you in charge of the weather, and you're having fun, but that's enough." The snow even delayed his post-mortem.
The post from Buxton Weather Watch reminded me about this, and I messaged to some friends: "Tim is making himself known around his anniversary. I told God he shouldn't have put him in charge of the weather." These are my continuing bonds with Tim.
The continuing bonds model
Many models of grief are linear, and go through a range of steps, ending up with acceptance and a new life. While models like the pinball machine and growing around grief do accept that it's more complicated than that, the idea of continuing bonds reflects that we don't just take our grief with us, we take the people that we have lost with us too. It accepts that staying connected with the people we love is normal.
The idea of continuing bonds comes from the book 'Continuing Bonds: New Understandings of Grief', edited by Dennis Klass, Phyllis Silverman and Steven Nickman, all experts in grief. Instead of focusing on letting go, continuing bonds talks about building a new relationship with the people that we have lost. This relationship we will take with us for always.
Continuing bonds with our late partners include:
Continuing bonds is a normal part of grief. However, if you feel stuck in grief, or trapped in the connections you have with your loved one, you may have developed what's called complicated grief disorder. This includes exaggerated grief symptoms over a long period, sometimes years or decades. If you feel you have this, it's worth talking to your GP, a counsellor, or a psychotherapist.
'Grief is a chasm' image shared with permission from Nansy Ferrett-Paine of Monster-Nip Art
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I was widowed at 50 when Tim, who I expected would be my happy-ever-after following a marriage break-up, died suddenly from heart failure linked to his type 2 diabetes. Though we'd known each other since our early 20s, we'd been married less than ten years.