A Hopeless Search for the Hopeless: a Literature Review of Contemporary Qualitative Studies on Partner Bereavement

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This literature review examines qualitative studies on partner bereavement from the year 2000 to 2018. The aim is to investigate which perspectives, theories, and models are prominent in this research, and how contemporary sociocultural trends might be related hereto. After giving a brief account of grief research in a historical perspective with a point of departure in partner bereavement and the development of a qualitative methodology within grief research, the following five theoretical frameworks are presented on the background of a close reading of the included 18 studies: continuing bonds, meaning and narrative reconstruction, the dual process model, post-traumatic growth, and disenfranchised grief. In the discussion, I pinpoint how the popularity and influence of these frameworks are related to contemporary sociocultural tendencies and ideologies. It is suggested that a greater awareness with regard to the cultural mediation of experiences and understandings of grief would be beneficial. Specifically, I argue that all the reviewed frameworks—in different ways, remain disturbed by a contemporary inability of handling suffering and impossibilities.
Original languageEnglish
JournalHuman Arenas - An interdisciplinary Journal of Psychology, Culture, and Meaning
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2020

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