Bridging inner and outer worlds: A psychodynamic approach to meaningful mourning

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterAcademicpeer-review


    To understand what different functions God representations and other dimensions of religion may have for people in precarious situations is further elaborated in the chapter by Hanneke Muthert, who, like Schaap-Jonker adopts a relational approach in the psychology of religion to discuss how religion may feature in coping with loss. For psychologists of religion and spiritual counsellors such an exploration of ‘relational space’ is valuable because it is precisely in the space where the inner world of a person and the outside world overlap that religious meaning can be experienced. In order to clarify the added value of concentrating on this relational space in studying bereavement, Muthert suggests to combine various theories that, each with their own focus, all depart from the assumption that mourning is essentially relational and understand mourning as making sense of loss; a good match between the social context and individual mourning capacities appears to be crucial for ‘healthy’ or effective mourning. Central to the theoretical framework she presents is a model in psychodynamic theory that distinguishes three different psychological structures, so-called 'modes of being' that each have their own specific mourning capabilities. Muthert argues that religion has the potential to fit in well with all three modes of being, but that good matches are not always obvious. The chapter ends with a discussion in which she reflects on the implementation and limitations of the theoretical framework presented in her chapter in counselling practices. Despite certain shortcomings, the theoretical framework developed by Muthert constitutes an important contribution to current mourning theories and practices by bridging people’s inner and outer worlds and taking into account different modes of being that grieving people may find themselves in.
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publication Religion as relation
    Subtitle of host publicationStudying religion in context
    EditorsP. Berger, M. Buitelaar, K. Knibbe
    Place of PublicationSheffield
    PublisherEquinox Publishing Ltd.
    Number of pages21
    ISBN (Electronic)9781800500716
    ISBN (Print)9781800500693, 9781800500709
    Publication statusPublished - 24-Oct-2021


    • mourning, religious meaning, modes of being, spiritual care

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