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.
IntroductionInterviewsOverviewChapter One Theories of Grief: How They Inform Our Understanding of the Loss of a PartnerClassical Paradigm of GriefPostmodern Paradigm of GriefIntegrating the ParadigmsChapter Two Loss of a Partner: Current IssuesReview of Literature on Loss of a SpouseGender and GriefReview of Literature on Opposite-Sex Partner LossReview of Literature on Same-Sex Partner LossSimilarities and Differences Among Types of Partner LossChapter Three Loss of a SpouseYoung WidowsBereaved Older SpousesChapter SummaryChapter Four Loss of an Opposite-Sex PartnerDisenfranchised GriefChapter SummaryChapter Five Loss of a Gay PartnerIssues Faced by a Bereaved Gay PartnerChapter SummaryChapter Six Loss of a Lesbian PartnerIssues Faced by a Bereaved Lesbian PartnerChapter SummaryChapter Seven Similar and Diverse Themes Among Bereaved PartnersAmbivalence Regarding Existing Ties with Deceased PartnerDiscrimination Experienced by Surviving Partners in Nontraditional RelationshipsUsing Memories and Continuing Bonds with the Bereaved to Cope with GrievingDeveloping New Relationships While Continuing Bonds with the Deceased PartnerMaking Meaning from the Experience of the Death of a PartnerChapter SummaryChapter Eight InterventionsA Classical Model of Interventions with Bereaved PartnersA Postmodern Model of Interventions with Bereaved PartnersInterventions with Bereaved SpousesInterventions with Young WidowsInterventions with Bereaved MenInterventions with Bereaved Domestic PartnersInterventions with Bereaved Lesbian PartnersInterventions with Bereaved Gay PartnersWorking with Gay and Lesbian Bereaved PartnersChapter SummaryChapter Nine Clinical ImplicationsClinical Implications for Interventions with Bereaved PartnersClinical Implications for Interventions with Same-Sex and Opposite-Sex PartnersClinical Implications for a Response to the Events of September 11, 2001ConclusionsReferencesIndex