Applying the phenomenology of grief: An autoethnographic study

Arnout Ter Haar, GE Smid

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


In contrast to normative views on grief, phenomenological descriptions of grief aim to provide a comprehensive picture of the lived experience, providing space for both uniqueness and universality. However, it is unclear how application of phenomenological descriptions contributes to bereavement care. The aim of the current study was to evaluate the clinical applicability of phenomenological descriptions of grief through autoethnographic exploration. The lived experience of the first author’s grief following the death of his husband illustrates two strands of time that increasingly desynchronize: the alienated reality of everyday life and the lingering presence-in-absence of the deceased. Processing grief involved a fundamental reorganization of his identity through representation of and identification with the deceased. Clinical applications of phenomenological descriptions include diagnosing existential manifestations of Prolonged Grief Disorder, cultural aspects, and psychoeducation for the bereaved and for those close to them.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages12
JournalDeath Studies
Early online date29 Jan 2024
Publication statusPublished - 30 Jan 2024

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