The aftermath of death in the continuing lives of the living: extending ‘bereavement’ paradigms through family and relational perspectives

Ribbens McCarthy, Jane; Woodthorpe, Kate and Almack, Kathryn (2023). The aftermath of death in the continuing lives of the living: extending ‘bereavement’ paradigms through family and relational perspectives. Sociology (Early Access).

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1177/00380385221142490

Abstract

While there is a significant interdisciplinary and international literature available on death, dying and bereavement, literature addressing responses to death is dominated by assumptions about individuality, framing ‘bereavement’ and ‘grief’ in terms of the inner psychic life of the individual. Scholarly literature tells us little about how the continuing aftermath of death is experienced in the everyday, relational lives of the living. Inspired by research from Majority Worlds, we consider literature that might enable a more ‘relational’ sociological approach, and explore what that might involve. We set out the potential for family sociology to provide an intrinsically (if variable) relational lens on the aftermath of death, along with examples of radical relational theorising more generally. We argue for a reframing and broadening of the dominant ‘bereavement studies’ of Minority Worlds towards a much-needed paradigm shift in understanding the continuing aftermath of death in the lives of the living.

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