Nowadays grief counselors are encouraged to support, enable and empower grief-stricken individuals to maintain their loving connections with their deceased loved ones. In the official newsletter of the Association for Death Education and Counseling, for example, licensed grief counselor Jane Bissler advocates for parents needing to maintain a bond with their child who has died, and calls upon bereavement professionals to include this in our practice. "Helping these bereaved parents to know the significance of continuing bonds is our new responsibility," she writes. "Nor is it enough for them to know about it. It is imperative that they also be taught how to create a new relationship with their child rather than letting it go." ("My Child Has Died, and So Have I! Grieving the Loss of An Adolescent Child," The Forum, January 2009).
In a study reported in OMEGA—Journal of Death and Dying (Volume 59, Number 2 / 2009), researchers examined subjects’ accounts of post-death encounters and their positive effects on the bereaved. Their findings: The encounters profoundly affected the participants’ beliefs in an afterlife and attitudes toward life and death, and had a significant effect on their grief. Finally, post-death encounters had a healing effect on the participants by contributing to a sense of connectedness with the deceased. We conclude that health care professionals and counselors should be educated about post-death encounters so that the bereaved can share their experiences in a supportive and understanding atmosphere.
Your feedback is welcome! Please feel free to leave a comment or a question, or share a tip, a related article or a resource of your own in the Comments section below.
If you’d like Grief Healing Blog updates delivered right to your inbox, you’re cordially invited to subscribe to our weekly Grief Healing Newsletter. Sign up here.
- Love After Death by Alexandra Kennedy
- After-Death Communication, Continued
- After-Death Communication: A List of Resources