Knowledge about Dying and Bereavement: Interpretation

  • Carole R. Smith
Part of the Practical Social Work Series book series


In the preceding chapter, I considered one aspect of available knowledge about dying and bereavement: that is, the empirical data provided by research studies. The second aspect of knowledge involves the ways in which we are able to understand or make sense of such data, and concerns us with matters of interpretation and explanation. This undertaking cannot be avoided if social workers are to understand why they adopt a particular approach to helping clients. It is possible to state a number of ‘ground-rules’ which might govern work with the dying and bereaved, but to grasp these without some understanding of their basis would leave the social worker inadequately equipped when faced with individual reactions or novel situations. The purpose of this chapter is to consider the major theoretical approaches to making sense of grief and mourning. Much of the available literature on this subject is based on a psychoanalytic model. It is important however to note the contribution which a sociological framework can provide in helping us to understand what researchers and practitioners have actually observed when people are faced with a significant loss.


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Copyright information

© British Association of Social Workers 1982

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  • Carole R. Smith

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