Following bereavement, continuing bonds (CBs) include engaging with memories, illusions, sensory and quasi-sensory perceptions, hallucinations, communication, actions, and belief that evoke an inner relationship with the deceased. To date, the literature has been unable to confirm whether retaining, rather than relinquishing, bonds is helpful. A mixed studies systematic literature search explored how CBs affect grief. Studies on the effect or experience of CBs on adjustment following bereavement were eligible for inclusion. Six computerized databases were searched. A total of 79 of 319 screened studies were included. Three themes were derived from the thematic analysis: (1) comfort and distress, (2) ongoing bonds and relational identity, and (3) uncertainty, conceptualizing, and spirituality. Themes describe the role of CBs for the accommodation of the death story, transformation of the relationship, meaning reconstruction, identity processes, and affirmation of spiritual belief. Results shed light on the adaptive potentials for CBs.
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- Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
- Clinical Psychology
- Developmental and Educational Psychology