To continue or relinquish bonds: a review of consequences for the bereaved

Death Stud. 2005 Jul-Aug;29(6):477-94. doi: 10.1080/07481180590962659.


This article reviews research on the continuing-breaking bonds controversy. Across the course of the 20th century a shift in theorizing took place from an emphasis on the benefits of breaking bonds to investigation of the presence and usefulness of continuing bonds with a deceased person. These different theoretical formulations are examined and empirical evidence on the (mal)adaptive value of retaining versus relinquishing bonds is assessed. The review shows that neither is it possible to conclude that continuing nor that relinquishing bonds is generally helpful. Researchers need to work toward understanding how and for whom continuing or relinquishing bonds furthers adjustment.

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological*
  • Bereavement*
  • Death
  • Humans
  • Interpersonal Relations
  • Object Attachment*
  • Psychology
  • Social Adjustment
  • Time Factors