Bereavement and the meaning of profound feelings of emptiness: An existential-phenomenological analysis

Allan Køster

Research output: Contribution to book/anthology/report/conference proceedingBook chapterResearchpeer-review


In this chapter, I investigate the meaning of profound feelings of emptiness following the bereavement of an intimate other. Contrary to a standard Freudian account, stating that such feelings of emptiness are exclusively emanating from an experience of a vacancy or absence in the world, I argue that they equally express a particular kind of emptiness of the embodied self. Specifically, I propose that feelings of emptiness, following the loss of an intimate other, are the affective expression of a profound constriction in the existential texture of my self-familiarity as rooted in a being-with. After unpacking this idea, I illustrate it in detail through five modalities and point to the existential consequence that bereavement not only implies a need to relearn the world, but a need to the task of relearning myself.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationTime and Body : Phenomenological and Psychopathogical Approaches
EditorsChristian Tewes, Giovanni Stanghellini
PublisherCambridge University Press
Publication dateOct 2020
ISBN (Print)9781108489355
ISBN (Electronic)9781108776660
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2020


  • Anxiety
  • Body-as-Object
  • Body Dysmorphic
  • Embodiment
  • Fear
  • Jean-Paul Sartre
  • Otherness
  • Self-reflection
  • Social anxiety disorder
  • Third Anxiety Disorder
  • Third Ontological Dimension of the Body


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