chapter  Chapter 6
21 Pages

Working through grief

WithKristina E. Schellinski

When parents cut grieving short by conceiving a new life, this shifts the burden to the replacement child. If adults cannot bear the grief, how can a new-born or young child shoulder it? One way to try and prevent “making” a replacement child is to grieve before conceiving: to see the loss as real, to resolve anger and guilt, to hold the defunct in dear memory and reconnect with the life force. Parents are advised to not seek undoing their loss by assigning the role of revenant to another child. Working through grief often meets with defences on the part of parents and replacement children. Grieving is indispensable for withdrawing libido from the lost child and maintaining a non-pathological bond, as a memory, an inner and conscious experience rather than seeking to undo the loss via projection onto an outer other child. Unresolved grief hampers not only a child’s attachment when a parent’s heart is longing more for the child who is not there than the one who is, but has long-term, wide ranging consequences. Unconscious incomplete separation from grieving parent(s) can lead to dangerous repetitions which underlines the vital need for differentiating self and other. When the condition is recognized and feelings are expressed and shared they are less likely to be transferred. Artist Caroline Mackenzie shares her Art of Grieving as well as her personal experience on http://carolinemackenzie.co.uk/theartofgrieving.