Theories About Grief:
Over the years there have
been many, often conflicting ideas about grief and loss. We will “touch on” a
few of the more prominent theories here.
A. Attachment Theory - Cathexis
1. Freud (1917) and Bowlby
(1973) both held the view
that the person who is grieving must learn to
“de-cathect” (that is, let go of) their attachment
to the deceased and learn to
emotionally to others.
2. They believed that this detachment
needed to be
accomplished both intellectually and emotionally.
3. Both men held to the idea
that a person has “only a
certain amount of emotional energy” (or
their words) and that this energy
must be redirected in order for the person to
move on with their lives.
B. “Grief Work”: Dr.
Lindemann (1944) made major
contributions to our understanding of grief and
loss. He was one of the first to talk about people
C. “Stages Of Grief”: Kubler-Ross (1997) conducted
studies on the
grief process of those who were
dying from terminal illness. Her theory about
“Stages of Grief” has often been quoted (and
1. According to whom you ask,
there are between 5 –
12 “stages of grief”.
2. There are many problems with
the concept of
“stages of grief” as held by many: one of the
most notable is
that people do not always go
through the stages as they are
described and if
they do – they don’t go through them in order.
3. Additionally, Kubler-Ross
studied those who were
themselves dying; she was not addressing
who were the survivors of a loss.
D. “Tasks of Mourning”: Dr. William Worden, PhD,
ABBP (1983, 1990) describes the “grief work”
of Mourning”. His work has been
extremely important to thousands of people
around the world.
Dr. Worden's work on grief and mourning has helped me personally - more than all the other books and theories put together.