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The interface between grief research and practice by Moira O'Connor
The interface between grief research and practice by Moira O'Connor
The interface between grief research and practice by Moira O'Connor
The interface between grief research and practice by Moira O'Connor
The interface between grief research and practice by Moira O'Connor
The interface between grief research and practice by Moira O'Connor
The interface between grief research and practice by Moira O'Connor
The interface between grief research and practice by Moira O'Connor
The interface between grief research and practice by Moira O'Connor
The interface between grief research and practice by Moira O'Connor
The interface between grief research and practice by Moira O'Connor
The interface between grief research and practice by Moira O'Connor
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The interface between grief research and practice by Moira O'Connor

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Moira O'Connor's presentation from the British Sociological Association Death, Dying and Bereavement Symposium - November 2009

Moira O'Connor's presentation from the British Sociological Association Death, Dying and Bereavement Symposium - November 2009

Published in: Education, Health & Medicine
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  • 1. The interface between grief research and practice Dr Moira O’Connor WA Centre for Cancer and Palliative Care, WA [email_address]
  • 2. Map <ul><li>Brief background to psychological theories </li></ul><ul><li>Key assumptions leading to a dominant discourse </li></ul><ul><li>Implications </li></ul><ul><li>Medicalisation of grief </li></ul><ul><li>Implications </li></ul><ul><li>Egs </li></ul>
  • 3. Background <ul><li>Freud – process to be worked through & relinquishing relationship to the deceased </li></ul><ul><li>Fulconer (1942) – stages </li></ul><ul><li>Lindeman - acute, needs withdrawal & needing ‘grief work’ </li></ul><ul><li>Breaking attachment bonds (Bowlby), relocating the deceased & ‘moving on….’(Worden) </li></ul><ul><li>Now seen differently but these classic theories remain salient </li></ul>
  • 4. Key assumptions <ul><li>Distinct & uniform pattern </li></ul><ul><li>Short term and finite </li></ul><ul><li>Tasks and work needed </li></ul><ul><li>Quasi-linear stages </li></ul><ul><li>Finding meaning & positives </li></ul><ul><li>Emotional expression necessary for to properly mourn the deceased </li></ul>
  • 5. Research participants <ul><li>Classic grief research with participants who were mainly: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>North American </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>White </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Middle-class </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Female </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Middle-aged-elderly widows of men who had a long-term illness </li></ul></ul>
  • 6. Implications <ul><li>Dominant discourse & cultural narrative </li></ul><ul><li>These hegemonic assumptions are culture-biased & gender-biased and not relevant for many outside this narrow band </li></ul><ul><li>Where does this leave people who fall outside this experience? </li></ul><ul><li>This dominant discourse pervades professional and lay understandings of grief (media) </li></ul><ul><li>There is a lack of questioning </li></ul><ul><li>The notion of grief police (Walter) </li></ul><ul><li>Recent eg from media ‘The stages of grief and how to get over it’ </li></ul>
  • 7. Negative impact on the bereaved <ul><li>Service providers may not meet needs of the bereaved – oppressive supports </li></ul><ul><li>A focus on forgetting and moving on </li></ul><ul><li>Distress and feeling not ‘normal’ – falling outside the ‘norm’ </li></ul><ul><li>Self policing </li></ul><ul><li>Judgements and labelling </li></ul>
  • 8. Further medicalisation of grief <ul><li>DSM5 diagnostic category of Prolonged Grief Disorder </li></ul><ul><li>Clearly focussed on: intensity, continued attachment, intrusive thoughts, long lasting </li></ul>
  • 9. Implications <ul><li>It may be very easy for people to be diagnosed with this ‘disorder’ </li></ul><ul><li>Potential for all grief to be pathologised </li></ul><ul><li>Labelling & stigma </li></ul><ul><li>Censure by others </li></ul><ul><li>Less likely to seek support if labelled </li></ul><ul><li>Supports may become ‘heavier’ </li></ul><ul><li>Less powerful > likely to be labelled or silenced </li></ul>
  • 10. Egs <ul><ul><li>Grief following road traffic crashes in WA </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Long-lasting, no detachment, oscillation of emotions, maintain relationships, rarely any positives </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>People silenced and imposition of the dominant narrative </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Relationships change and not always for the better </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Superficial understandings of grief by others </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Unique </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Learning to live with not get over </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Majority would meet criteria for prolonged grief disorder </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Challenges </li></ul></ul>
  • 11. Egs <ul><li>Suicide in Aboriginal communities </li></ul><ul><li>40% higher than national average </li></ul><ul><li>Community grief – extensive grief </li></ul><ul><li>Funerals – importance & implications </li></ul><ul><li>Public expression of grief </li></ul><ul><li>Rituals such as not naming the deceased </li></ul><ul><li>Silenced & minimised </li></ul>
  • 12. <ul><li>  </li></ul>

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