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Death and Dying - The Family After Death

gender euthanasia development families loss grief life

Froma Walsh and Monica McGoldrick (1991) proposed that in order to successfully adapt to the loss of their family member, the family must do the following:

Recognize the loss as real. Family members must acknowledge the loss as real while each family member shares his or her grief. In order to do this, family members must share emotions and thoughts with each other. Grief is an isolating experience; a sense of acceptance among members would be promoted by displays of tolerance of differences in behavior by family members.

Reorganize and reinvest in the family system. As indicated above, the family system is destabilized by the loss; yet for it to continue to function, order and control must be reclaimed. Family members must reconstruct what family means to them and the roles and related tasks of the person who has died must be reassigned or given up. Family life may seem chaotic at this time and there may be battles over how the family will be reorganized. Differences in grieving may contribute to a feeling of being out-of-synch among family members. To get in-synch, families must reframe, that is, relabel their differences as strengths rather than weaknesses. The family must reinvest itself in normal developmental evolution. Tasks that are carried out as a matter of course in families must again be carried out in the family. This reclaiming of a normal life may be seen by some as abandonment of the deceased loved one. Trying to avoid mention of the deceased may inhibit communication, contributing to a sense of secretiveness in the family. Family members should let each other hold onto the memory until releasing them feels voluntary.

According to Walsh and McGoldrick, open communication is essential to completion of these tasks. This process may be slow, as each family member has strong needs and limited resources after a loss. Family members, who are already more emotional, may not recognize each other's different grief styles as legitimate. Rituals like funerals, religious rites, even family holiday rituals, can be used to facilitate the process of recognition, reorganization, and reinvestment in the family.

Bibliography

Braun, K. L., and Nichols, R. (1997). "Death and Dying in Four Asian American Cultures: A Descriptive Study." Death Studies 21:327–360.

Doka, K. J., ed. (1989). Disenfranchised Grief. Lexington, MA: Lexington Books.

Doka, K. J. (1993). Living with Life-Threatening Illness: A Guide for Patients, Their Families and Caregivers. New York: Lexington Books.

Doka, K. J. (1995–96). "Coping with Life-threatening Illness: A Task Model." Omega: Journal of Death and Dying 32:111–122.

Hill, R. (1949). Families under Stress; Adjustment to the Crises of War Separation and Reunion. New York: Harper.

Kastenbaum, R. J. (1998). Death, Society, and Human Experience, 6th edition. Boston: Allyn and Bacon.

Lepowsky, M. (1985). "Gender, Aging and Dying in an Egalitarian Society." In Aging and Its Transformations—Moving Toward Death in Pacific Societies, ed. D. R. Counts and D. A. Counts. Lanham, MD: University Press of America.

Mezey, M.; Miller, L. L.; and Linton-Nelson, L. (1999). "Caring for Caregivers of Frail Elders at the End of Life." Generations 23:44–51.

Murray, C. I. (2000). "Coping with Death, Dying, and Grief in Families." In Families and Change: Coping with Stressful Events and Transitions, ed. P. C. McKenry and S. J. Price. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Parkes, C. M.; Laungani, P.; and Young, B. (1997). Introduction to Death and Bereavement Across Cultures, ed. C. M. Parkes, P. Laungani, and B. Young. London: Routledge.

Rando, T. (1984). Grief, Dying and Death: Clinical Interventions for Caregivers. Champaign, IL: Research Press.

Rosen, E. J. (1998). Families Facing Death: A Guide for Healthcare Professionals and Volunteers. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Sudnow, D. (1967). Passing On: The Social Organization of Dying. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall.

Swift, P. (1989). "Support for the Dying and Bereaved in Zimbabwe: Traditional and New Approaches." Journal of Social Development in Africa 4:25–45.

Walsh, F., and McGoldrick, M. (1991). "Loss and the Family: A Systemic Perspective." In Living Beyond Loss: Death in the Family, ed. F. Walsh and M. McGoldrick. New York: Norton.

Webb, M. (1997). The Good Death: The New American Search to Reshape the End of Life. New York: Bantam Books.


Other Resource

Frederick, C. J. (2001). "Death and Dying." Microsoft Encarta Online Encyclopedia, 2001. Available from http://encarta.msn.com.

KATHLEEN R. GILBERT

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almost 9 years ago

How people can cope living after a member of their family dies?I tried that for the past of 14 years since my father pass away but I m soo depressed and dont know how to find joy to live this life.I worked hard all my life never stoped looking after my family .I m a mess thinking in every day that I should end this life the pain is unberable...