...and I will always love you

Research output: Working paper


Freud argues that the deep reaction to the loss of a loved one contains the same painful frame of mind, and the same disinterest of making new loves or activity that would replace the memory of the beloved deceased, has a similarity to someone having melancholia. He describes the mood in bereavement as ‘painful’. Townsend (2008), sees the epitaph or memorial as not being about the self but as a ‘sealing of a pact’ between those who are dead and the rest of us. Freud maintains that the self splits in confronting loss and bereavement. If the self splits in childhood, does it split in dying? Mourning according to Freud, absorbs all of the self in the ‘work of mourning’.

One of the most difficult losses is a loss of a child. Motherhood naturally involves attachment that is prematurely severed after the death of her baby or a child. Parents cope with their emotional journey, a tragic detachment by forming an everlasting memory of a short life. Love, separation and detachment form the key components of loss, bereavement and burial. The things that have been collected over the few years become precious items that become associated with that child. How can memory be obtained without losing the emotional connection to the objects that connect the bereaved with that living person. In processing these emotions, the rites bereaved parents practice will help them accept the death of their child. For many, it’s as if time stands still for those painful years afterwards.


Freud, S. (1984), ‘On Metapsychology’ volume 11 Penguin, London
Townsend, C., (2008), ‘Art & Death’ I.B.Tauris, London, New York
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationOntario, Canada
Publication statusPublished - 6 Jun 2024


  • loss
  • death
  • parent
  • materiality


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