The Death of a Significant Other

  • Gary Backhaus
Part of the Analecta Husserliana book series (ANHU, volume 62)


There are few events in life that cut through the taken-for-granted (Schutz) or average everydayness (Heidegger) structures of the ordinary life. Even the out-of-the-ordinary is a mundane typification. The death of a significant other is an event thar radically disturbs our concrete lives and our innermost Being, As emotionally painful as this event can be, the death of a significant other is an occasion that potentially reveals in a primordial way facets of the Being, of the kind that human beings are, and specifically the Being of one’s own life. Being is experienced, yet its ontological structure remains hidden by the opacity of everydayness. When a significant other dies, one’s own factical everydayness is radically modified and placed in questions, which discloses its presuppositions. One’s projected possibilities abruptly must accommodate the non-possibilities of the deceased significant others. The first part of this characterizes the state-of-mind or mood, “oppressiveness”, an existentiale that measures the existential possibilities that have been lived through the relationship with the deceased significant other. The restructuring of choices must take place due to the absence of this other. Oppressiveness discloses the values-within-the-relation that one has lived or has failed to live. The unconcealment of these values promotes their reevaluation in terms of the loss. Oppressiveness clears a paradigmatic situations for an authentic recognition of the values and thus an authentic evaluation of possibilities. The second part of this paper describes how the death of significant other is experienced but cannot be brought to intuition, even through this death is “lived”. This structure presents a paradox of intentionally, i.e., non-intuited evidence. This “experimential metaphysics” of the significant other’s death is shown by examining various facets of this experience that permeates the lives of the ones-left-behind.


Carpal Tunnel Syndrome Biological Organism Impossible Objectification Authentic Disclosure Existential Possibility 
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© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2000

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  • Gary Backhaus

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