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Staying Connected through the Loss

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Staying Connected through the Loss p

When I was in elementary school, we lived in a small Texas town without a Presbyterian church so we attended the Methodist. If I was exposed to any theology, I don’t remember it—except for recalling one Sunday School teacher who alluded to the dangers of backsliding. I must have expressed a lack of interest in the concept because my usually gentle teacher said with an edge to her voice, “Maybe you should think more about being saved, Donna Sue.”

“No,” I answered. “I don’t need to. Mother will die before I do and she will be in heaven. If they won’t let me in, she’ll talk to God about it. I’ll be okay.”

That early certainty of Mom’s ultimate destination, and my conviction that her love for me would keep me safe, did not diminish much for me over the years. I told her a few months before she died about this Sunday School exchange, only half-laughing at my younger self. She listened and smiled. She did not contradict me.


The family Christmas celebration in 1997 was at my house, and we have a videotape of Mother recounting early family history, recalling

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photo gallery

Donna S. Davenport University of North Texas Press PDF
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Suggested Further Reading

Donna S. Davenport University of North Texas Press PDF

Suggested Further Reading


Coping with Loss—Nolen-Hoeksema, S. & Davis, C.G. (1999) Mahwah,

NJ: Erlbaum.

How To Go on Living When Someone You Love Dies—Therese Rando(1991)

NY: Doubleday.

I Can’t Stop Crying—John Martin & Frank Ferris (1992) CT: Firefly


Making Loss Matter—Rabbi David Wolpe (2000) NJ: Penguin Putnam.

Meaning Reconstruction and the Experience of Loss—Robert Neimeyer, ed. (2001) Washington D.C.: APA Press

Mending the Torn Fabric—Brabant, Sarah (1996) Amityville, NY:


No Time for Good-byes—Janice Lord (2000) CA: Pathfinder.

Parting Company—Cynthia Pearson and Margaret Stubbs (1999) WA:

Seal Press.

A Path Through Loss—Nancy Reeves(2001) Canada: Northstone.

Roses in December—Marilyn Heavlin (1998) OR: Harvest House.

Understanding Grief—Alan Wolfelt (1992) NY: Taylor & Francis.

Self-Help—Midilife Loss of Parent

African-American Daughters and Elderly Mothers—Sharon Smith(1998)

CT: Garland.

Coping When a Parent Dies—Janet Grosshandler-Smith (1995) NY:


Fading Away—Betty Davies, Joanne Reimer, Pamela Brown, & Nola

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Family Tree

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Anticipatory Grief

Donna S. Davenport University of North Texas Press PDF


The heartbreak in King David’s cry when hearing of the death of his estranged son soars far above those sweet twinges we feel in relinquishing small lovely moments.

Grief is the name we give to that pain experienced when we are wrenched away from a closely held connection, especially from one loved over time. Freud used the term “cathexis” to explain human attachments, a term from the Greek word meaning “holding.” One becomes “cathected to love objects” when one invests emotional energy in them, when, in effect, one holds them close. Anytime we let someone or something mean something to us, we are cathected, and the loss of that love object may be agonizing. Those people and things that we bond to are what define us as individuals. So grief raises the question: Who are we when they are no longer in our life? How do we then define ourselves?

A new understanding of anticipatory grief

Grief, according to Freud (1917/1957), has a purpose: Mourners must learn to detach their feelings and attachments from the deceased, so that they can become free to reinvest in new relationships. The reality of the loss must be accepted as final and they must “decathect”; pathological grief is that which has reached no closure or resolution. As much as psychoanalysis has evolved since Freud, contemporary psychoanalytic thought is still consistent with this early conceptualization

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