Bereavement: Including Some Iatrogenic Aspects of Grief

  • Terence E. Lear
Part of the Sloan-Kettering Institute Cancer Series book series (SKICS)


The sorrow of parting, unless brief, is not at all sweet, in my experience. I can reflect that while a parting is not as final as a death, it may yet prepare me for the grief associated with death. An understanding of the grief associated with separation should be a topic included in medical education, because the implications of grief for the medical profession are widespread. The painstaking work of John Bowlby (1953) and Colin Murray Parkes (1972) made clear that the loss of separation provokes similar symptoms, whether the loss is temporary—as when a mother leaves her child in the hospital—or permanent, as when a person suffers a bereavement. Other losses, too, cause suffering similar to that of bereavement, although close observations have shown some differences in detail. In disregarding these differences, I meet objections of over-inclusiveness with the plea that this does at least provide an opportunity to review some of our medical practices. Any baby can expect feeding and stimulation from his mother. Good-enough mothering promotes tolerance of brief absences of the mother, but prolonged separation is associated with certain changes in the child, which were described graphically by Bowlby and portrayed in a series of moving films made by the Robertsons (1967–1976).


Ward Staff Somatic Effect Family Accommodation Tactile Hallucination Psychosocial Experience 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Bourne, S. The psychological effects of stillbirths on women and their doctors. J. R. Coll. Gen. Prac. 16:103, 1968.Google Scholar
  2. Bowlby, J. Child Care and the Growth of Love. Harmondsworth: Pelican Books, 1953.Google Scholar
  3. Caplan, G. An Approach to Community Mental Health. London, Tavistock, 1961.Google Scholar
  4. Freud, S. Mourning and Melancholia Standard Edition, Vol. 14, London: Hogarth Press and the Institute of Psychoanalysis, 1917.Google Scholar
  5. Hinton, J. Dying. Harmonds worth: Penguin Books, 1967.Google Scholar
  6. Home, H. J. The concept of mind. Int. J. Psycho-anal. 47/42, 42–49, 1966.Google Scholar
  7. Kübler-Ross, E. On Death and Dying. London: Tavistock, 1970.Google Scholar
  8. Lewis, C. S. A Grief Observed. London: Faber, 1961.Google Scholar
  9. Lewis, E. The management of stillbirth: coping with an unreality. Lancet2:619, 1976.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Parkes, C. M. Bereavement. Studies of Grief in Adult Life. Harmondsworth: Pelican Books, 1972.Google Scholar
  11. Rees, W. D. Brit. Med. J. 4:37–41, 1971.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Robertson, J., and Joyce. Young Children in Brief Separation. Film Series. Concord Films Council, Nacton, Ipswich, England: 1967–1976.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 1979

Authors and Affiliations

  • Terence E. Lear
    • 1
  1. 1.St. Crispin HospitalNorthamptonEngland

Personalised recommendations