Although there is extensive research on the loss of a spouse, predominantly focusing on the experiences of widows, much less attention is paid to bereaved partners not married to their significant other, whether or not the partners are of the same sex. This first-of-its-kind work explores both socially sanctioned and disenfranchised grief, highlighting similarities and differences. Combining a discussion of various theories of grief with personal narratives of grieving men and women drawn from numerous interviews, and detailed case study analysis, Carolyn Ambler Walter has produced a penetrating examination of the bereavement experiences of partners in varying types of relationships. She views narratives of widows, widowers, and bereaved domestic gay and lesbian partners from a postmodern perspective that breaks away from the traditional belief that the living must detach themselves from the dead in order to move on with their lives. Instead, building on the works of postmodern grief theorists such as Klass, Silverman, and Nickman, Walter views ongoing bonds with the dead as a resource for enriching functionality in the present, and as a key to looking to the future.
Carolyn Ambler Walter, Ph.D., LCSW, is a professor at the Center for Social Work Education at Widener University, Chester, PA, and maintains a private clinical social work practice. Dr. Walter is co-author of Breast Cancer in the Life Course: Women's Experiences, and is the author of The Timing of Motherhood.
Introduction Interviews Overview Chapter One Theories of Grief: How They Inform Our Understanding of the Loss of a Partner Classical Paradigm of Grief Postmodern Paradigm of Grief Integrating the Paradigms Chapter Two Loss of a Partner: Current Issues Review of Literature on Loss of a Spouse Gender and Grief Review of Literature on Opposite-Sex Partner Loss Review of Literature on Same-Sex Partner Loss Similarities and Differences Among Types of Partner Loss Chapter Three Loss of a Spouse Young Widows Bereaved Older Spouses Chapter Summary Chapter Four Loss of an Opposite-Sex Partner Disenfranchised Grief Chapter Summary Chapter Five Loss of a Gay Partner Issues Faced by a Bereaved Gay Partner Chapter Summary Chapter Six Loss of a Lesbian Partner Issues Faced by a Bereaved Lesbian Partner Chapter Summary Chapter Seven Similar and Diverse Themes Among Bereaved Partners Ambivalence Regarding Existing Ties with Deceased Partner Discrimination Experienced by Surviving Partners in Nontraditional Relationships Using Memories and Continuing Bonds with the Bereaved to Cope with Grieving Developing New Relationships While Continuing Bonds with the Deceased Partner Making Meaning from the Experience of the Death of a Partner Chapter Summary Chapter Eight Interventions A Classical Model of Interventions with Bereaved Partners A Postmodern Model of Interventions with Bereaved Partners Interventions with Bereaved Spouses Interventions with Young Widows Interventions with Bereaved Men Interventions with Bereaved Domestic Partners Interventions with Bereaved Lesbian Partners Interventions with Bereaved Gay Partners Working with Gay and Lesbian Bereaved Partners Chapter Summary Chapter Nine Clinical Implications Clinical Implications for Interventions with Bereaved Partners Clinical Implications for Interventions with Same-Sex and Opposite-Sex Partners Clinical Implications for a Response to the Events of September 11, 2001 Conclusions References Index