The capacity to mourn: Thoughts for a developmental line

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2 Scopus citations


Objective: The purpose of this article is to examine the developmental transformative milestones and cognitive achievements that mediate the mourning process. Method: Selected literature review and theoretical considerations to formulate hypotheses referencing mourning. Results: We identify three predominant venues through which we experience losses: (1) The child moving from dependence to independence with the shedding of infantile ties. (2) The uncertainties of the life cycle with the inevitable and fateful losses of family members and loved ones; and (3) the passage of time with diminishing options and inevitable decline. Mourning requires consideration of the role of object constancy, the capacity for ambivalence, the successful negotiation of the normative adolescent mourning process, critical cognitive achievements including the acceptance of transience and chance happenings, and identification and the stabilization of the inner relationship with the mental representation of the lost object. Conclusion: Our life experiences require that we develop strategies for dealing with the various losses associated with our journey through the life cycle. The complex process of mourning and the ability to mourn evolves along a developmental line. There are certain developmental transformative milestones and cognitive achievements which if achieved facilitate mourning and which if not achieved may impede the process of mourning.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)55-64
Number of pages10
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2015

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Medicine(all)


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