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Gray, S.H. (1990). Bulletin of the Menninger Clinic. LII. 1988: Widowhood: The Continuing Relationship with the Dead Spouse. Stephen R. Shuchter and Sidney Zisook. Pp. 269-279.. Psychoanal Q., 59:336-337.
Psychoanalytic Electronic Publishing: Bulletin of the Menninger Clinic. LII. 1988: Widowhood: The Continuing Relationship with the Dead Spouse. Stephen R. Shuchter and Sidney Zisook. Pp. 269-279.

(1990). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 59:336-337

Bulletin of the Menninger Clinic. LII. 1988: Widowhood: The Continuing Relationship with the Dead Spouse. Stephen R. Shuchter and Sidney Zisook. Pp. 269-279.

Sheila Hafter Gray

The authors interviewed eighty widowed people at regular intervals from one or two months after the death of the spouse until four years later. They identified a

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dynamic conflict between the need to accept the loss and restructure one's life and the wish to maintain an emotionally vital, if illusory, relationship with the dead spouse. They found that the latter prevailed in most cases. Most participants believed their spouses had gone to heaven and that they would be reunited at a later time. During the earliest months of bereavement, the survivor sought out the dead person or even hallucinated his or her presence. Material symbols of the spouse and of the relationship, and memories of the deceased, took on special value for the survivor. Wish-fulfillment dreams, in which latent and manifest content are identical, assuaged feelings of loss. Some mourners solved the problem of separation in a series of leave-taking dreams. These findings prompt the authors to question the idea that the mourning process normally leads to decathexis of the lost object. Since we may expect that the relationship will persist, they recommend that psychotherapy be focused on helping the widow maintain it in an adaptive fashion.

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Article Citation

Gray, S.H. (1990). Bulletin of the Menninger Clinic. LII. 1988. Psychoanal. Q., 59:336-337

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