Table of Contents
The attachment theory is associated with John Bowlby (1907-1990), a British psychiatrist. John Bowlby argues that the implication of attachment broadens our inclination on the capacity to comprehend some grief and bereavement cases. Human beings are attached since birth, a process or a factor that develops from the basic human needs, i.e. security alongside safety (Worden 1991, pp. 23).The safety and security needs are usually directed to specific individuals in life; for example, the loved ones as well as relatives. This helps to maintain and value the affectionate ties in childhood and adulthood. The mourning and bereavement process is a typical response that one develops to the situation and the feeling of separation and loss. Therefore, the behavioural attitudes that entail a mourning process are termed as the pro-survival techniques that are usually directed towards the process of restoring the lost ties with the deceased ones.
The attachment theory also depicts that the mother acts as a safe haven for children. This helps the child get some comfort whenever they face problems in life. The mother is also a secure base for the children to explore the world. This is because the children need to be assured of some security as well as seek advice when making engaging in some activities. This explains the proximity maintenance between the care giver and the child. There is also a feeling of distress when the mother or the care giver is taken away from the child. Mary Ainsworth explains the secure attachment as the situation that occurs when the children display distress once the care giver or the mother returns. Ambivalent attachment is shown when the kid is upset once the mother leaves. This is a result of poor maternal attachment with the child. Additionally, avoidant attachment from kids results from mistreatment by the care givers or the mothers. Children do not easily forget things hence, any case of maltreatment leads to a bad inclination about the caregivers.
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The attachment theory draws experiences from John’s life as a child, who had been left by his nanny at the age of four. John Bowlby links this loss to the following situation. What would be if it was his mother that had died? This experience in John’s life was also characterized by the fact that John had gone to a boarding institution when he was seven. John Bowlby’s case is applicable to several children that had faced the same situation; and the attachment to the mother was completely withdrawn (Bowlby 1969, pp. 41). The environment behaviour that leads to mourning and bereavement should be properly understood as well and linked to such circumstances. For example, during the World War II, several children became homeless and orphans. The emotional and physical attachment between a mother and a child is very crucial in life. It provides the basis of a sturdy mother-child relationship in adulthood. This is due to the maternal instincts between the both ones. The failure or lack of such bonds results to some psychiatrist cases as well as delinquency among children. The attachment theory recommends that the children, the victims of WW2 were supposed to be provided with the maternal care, whilst they received the treatment in infirmary. This was to help reducing the level of sickness and to cement the feeling of the emotional and physical attachment (Worden 1991, pp. 15).
Most children as studied by John Bowlby blame themselves for such circumstances like the demise of their caregivers, rejections, threats and the death of their siblings. This brings the usual adverse effects of loneliness and wishful thinking of a diverse situation to solve the problem. Therefore, the attachment is a crucial theory that aids in the development of sturdy emotional state as well as the flexibility character (Worden 199, pp. 18).The deprivation of attachment during such mourning times in the child’s life denies them a chance to grow normally, lack the feeling of empathy as well as resist relating with other people.
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The attachment theory also has the aspect of reinstating the lost relationship by applying a repertoire of behaviour. This includes the emotional response, which the bereaved one has from the concerned members. The feeling of sadness and helplessness needs to be controlled by applying the attachment theory. This entails giving hope to the bereaved and cultivating interests in them the needs to live again. The mourning process entails the fact of accepting the reality of what has happened (Bowlby 1969, pp. 17). This is also accompanied by a deeper conviction that the deceased one will not return to life again but he or she is gone forever. These are the factors that one must work through so as to start the normal life again with the deceased ones missing. Some forms of mourning are complicated, hence, call for guidance and counselling.
The attachment theory helps us to understand the process of mourning and bereavement while depicting the loss in the childhood experience to terror activities along with violence. These feelings occur due to the feeling of being deprived of the maternal attachment. Several children around the world lose their mothers at a tender age. This makes them develop some grief-related sicknesses like rejection and depression. The cumulative trauma is also associated with this condition. The attachment theory, therefore, is imperative to the child’s growth since it provides the feeling of being secure when the mother is around.
Another understanding of attachment theory in mourning and bereavement is that it helps one to accept having a terminal illness. Most people experience the hard time accepting this condition. Many terminal illnesses like HIV/AIDS and cancer are sometimes incurable, so the patients become rather nervous. However, with the attachment from the surrounding community, one is able to forget the illness and gather some hope in living (Bell 2001, pp. 21). The anger that one may subject himself to feeling that his body has betrayed him due to the improper functioning is subsided. This may lead to the patient pleading with God or the powers he believes in to consider his situation and give him more time to live (Bell 2001, pp. 17). This is a condition caused by people that lack the attachment and spend their sad times meditating on their death. The situation could, however, be reversed by giving the attention to the sick and providing the adequate care to them. This is known as the feeling of acceptance from the society as well as the individual.
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The understanding of the attachment theory is also based on the cognitive coping approach. This is what happens to the mind of bereaved during that period. As psychologists have argued, dealing with any occurrence is all set in the human mind. Therefore, mourning could be lessened by, for instance, taking away the items that belonged to the deceased ones. This includes clothes and shoes among other things. The site of seeing these things often rekindles the memories and the bereavement feeling. This approach is linked to the attachment theory by the manner of avoiding any contact. Several people have tried this method, which has greatly contributed to their healing process. More so, there is as assumed ideology that this is a ritual that is seen as a way of forgetting the dead ones. Other people argue that putting away his items and property makes the dead feel at ease and concentrate in their new world.
Strengths and Limitations of Mourning/Bereavement Theories
There are several mourning theories as well as their limitations. One of the theories has been discussed above, i.e. the attachment theory. The advantage of attachment theory includes giving a continued sustenance and affection amid the mother along with the kid. This is an important stage in the child’s growth. Therefore, it has to be given all the attention it requires. John Bowlby advocates for the maternal home-based care to children as well as the idea of women taking care of their children initially before working (Bell 2001, pp. 20). This gives credit to the children and guarantees them a better life and a normal growth. Committing oneself to the full force of caring for children makes one gain huge experiences in recurring traits. For example, a child might undergo a similar disease like the previous one. It is through the experience that one is able to take some defensive tactics to survive. The weakness of the attachment theory occurs in the excessive care given by the mother, which may make her harm an infant due to the fear of hurting him or her. In case of any illness, the mother may not completely be aware of procedures. This condition may also be linked to the lack of cash to support the child. Other factors include domestic violence, which affect the infant. These factors could lead to a complete loss of attachment; maybe, if the child died.
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A grief theory is also an example of mourning theory (Bell 2001, pp. 19). There is the anticipatory grief, which results from the prediction of death situation by the condition of patients. Grief theory is also explained by some scholars as the inner process of coping with the loss of individuals. The grief theory explains how diverse personalities are mourned depending on their social status and their role to the bereaved ones. The main objective of mourning as suggested by the grief theory is to forget the loss and focus on the future without the deceased. This theory also argues that one overcomes the loss after he or she has become emotionally attached to another person. This, however, does not completely solve the issue of the complete loss, since it is certain that one could possibly never forget completely the loss of a close contact. Grief theory also has it that the loss of a relative or a friend leads to the loss of the identity of the bereaved person. One also loses his or her self-confidence for quite some instant also accompanied by the loss of health. This is because the physical results of grief are devastating and could lead to sickness (Kubler-Ross 1997, pp. 27). The loss of security is lost as well with the occasion of death. For instance, if one lost a parent or a guardian, he could feel being deprived of the assurance to be secure. The parents are the ones used to live with providing the security and their death brings loneliness to the house. The bereaved feels afraid; and some people claim to see some ghosts at night. The death of your partner may also bring the financial insecurity. This is in such case where a husband or a wife was a bread winner of the family. The bereaved partner feels sad especially when seeing other couples and their good lifestyle together.
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The strength of grief theory is that the bereaved get the emotional support from other care givers and relatives. For instance, the demise of the one’s parents leads to help and encouragement from relatives and concerned neighbours. Some of the bereavement support organizations offer an annual support to the affected individuals. These support organizations bring the relief to individuals (Holland 2001, pp. 13). It is important to show some hospice care to the bereaved to help them regaining the reality as it is expected in life. One should have a positive inclination in life to achieve this task. For instance, one could take the affected individuals for a walk to deter off the feeling of loss. This is a type of the emotional therapy that works with all people.
It is a mere fact that all human beings are headed to the grave. This helps one to view things in a different perspective. Therefore, hospice care could be associated with the self-motivation and knowing that the one’s time will also come. The limitations of grief theory are that the bereaved family or an individual may suffer from stigma. This is experienced when the victim feels so meaningless. Thus, the only solution being the best for him/her is death. Some victims even result to killing themselves when they cannot accept the loss anymore. This action is caused by an excess grief. This is an inner feeling where one is not able to mourn and cry out his problems. The victim suffers in silence, hence, as doctors say, grief could lead to the eventual death. For instance, the family in my home town was bereaved of their own child. The couple was aged and could not give birth anymore. More so, their only child was born after several years of struggle and the lack of a child. The couple had undergone through the great agony and rejection no matter the bereavement support given to them that they both died of depression. These are adverse effects of grief and a limitation of grief theory.
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Specific types of losses
An example of mourning process includes the sudden loss. This is the grief one experiences after an immediate loss of a loved one. A sudden loss devastates the bereaved since they are set to face an unexpected occurrence. The entire effect of the loss is felt for a large period of time. However, one may have acknowledged the incidence. The other type of loss is the complicated grief, which goes beyond the normal and expected grief that people usually experience. Complicated grief is often characterized by the symptoms of depression as well as anxiety. In case of the prolonged grief, a victim ought to seek some medical care. Anticipatory mourning is also a type of loss which occurs when one dies from a predicted death. For instance, if the cause of death was a terminal illness or a condition the doctors predicted the death of the patient. Therefore, people are able to prepare themselves psychologically for a mourning process due to the prior information.
Cultural attitudes and practices
The reference of mourning theories to the influence of cultural attitudes and practices are greatly related. This is because the cultural practices in one society differ from the rest ones. Cultural practices are sometimes extended to the bereavement procedure to fulfil the cultural rituals (Holland 2001, pp. 11). Though death is a universal occurrence, the traits linked to the cultural practice are viewed in frame of a cultural perspective. The grieving process is handled with great care and respect of the bereaved, while giving the cultural respect to the deceased ones. For instance, some communities bury their dead along with clothes and food to show that they still care for them even in the second world. Obviously, the health care providers are not able to discern the mourning customs of every community; hence, they do their best in treating the patient. Once the patient is dead, the health care providers hand in the care to the deceased relatives to decide on what to do with him.
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This is because of the complicated nature of our taboos and customs, with so many restrictions of dos and donts. However, there are some common customs that are experienced by all people. For example, putting on black attires during the funeral since black colour symbolizes darkness and death (Kubler-Ross 1997, pp. 21). This has an exception in few cultures like China, where white is the colour of death along with mourning. Some of the rituals performed for the dead people are also based on a religious basis. People have diverse systems of beliefs across the world. For instance, some worship ancestors, Muslim worship, Christianity as well as idols. Others are pagans, who believe in cremating the dead bodies. The Muslims and Christians view death as a transition to a more splendid place by God (Allah). This makes them have the courage and hope even when faced with death since the dead goes to live with God. Their customs deliver them from much suffering and grief since they expect to meet with the dead again in heaven. For instance, they give encouraging messages like, “God gives and he has taken away, his name be praised (Allah giveth and Allah taketh away)”. The readings are derived from the Bible and the Koran respectively as vital in denoting the loss of a loved one. This is equated to the saying that God loved the deceased more than the living ones; hence, God has taken him away. All the above religious custom assertions are based on a broad idea of the life after death; hence, view the worldly life as a preparation to the second one.
Ancestral customs are also another cultural practice linked to mourning theories. Ancestral customs are founded on the fact that the dead are not seen physically. Nevertheless, they exist in a different world. This custom also asserts that the dead are not completely gone but their spirit hooves around protecting the living and punishing the wrong doers. Most African and Asian traditional societies believed in ancestors. They made several sacrifices to appease the dead people. The ancestors may also be reincarnated as this custom asserts. Buddhists also believe in the co-existence of the living and the dead ones and the mystical powers of the dead experienced in the daily lives of living ones, for example through blessings, food and curses among others (Kubler-Ross 1997, pp. 29). The ancestral custom values are of great value while conducting funerals. Since they believe that the lack of proper handling of the dead brings back their ghosts to torment the living. For example, in China, there is an annual practice of sweeping the graves to show care and linkage amid the existing also the departed. This also is a cultural influence that is linked to the process of mourning.
Some communities have a different perspective when it comes to revealing the news of the sickness to the patient. If a nurse does this without their knowledge, it is termed as an abomination. The family has a greater say and decision in such collective societies. They value the patient’s right not to know, which is considered as a deprivation of individual right. In such communities, the patient may actually die not knowing where he had suffered for time he was being in the hospital. This is why the healthcare providers advocate for the communication patterns with patients. The patients are also assigned to guidance and counsellors that break the news to you in a better way.
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The attachment theory is not inclusive of culture. This is due to the assertion that the maternal deprivation of child care leads to a bad life of the affected child. The culture of the society defines it; therefore, the death of the mother could as well affect the community. This depends on how the set beliefs are valued in the community. Mainly, it is not the responsibility of the mother how their kids turn in later life. Some children have the maternal care since the very birth but lead a frustrated life (Holland 2001, pp. 28). The one’s personality is usually drawn from the environment as well as the inner feeling of doing the right things in life. Therefore, John Bowlby’s attachment theory and the notion of the child’s care do not completely explain an exception case. This means that the theory narrows down to the maternal care, while ignoring other factors as individuality and the one’s contribution to his better life.
Personal interest in choosing the topic
The topic gives insight to the reader on how to deal with grief. Mourning period poses as a great challenge to individuals hence, one needs to be knowledgeable on how to deal with it. The topic also draws examples of how children’s attachment to their care givers is an essential stage in their life. The paper offers a comprehensive knowledge on the important phases of life. This includes birth and growth and death.In conclusion, this topic on mourning is a recommended one since it illustrates the appreciation of human sentiments and how to handle them. The topic also discusses the support of individuals and support organizations, which are ready to offer and ensure the one going through the experience in a better way. This depicts the feeling of humanity among people (Holland 2001, pp. 17).
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