Research Shows How Family Heirlooms Can Ease Grief

Losing a parent or close relative is often one of the most profound experiences in a person’s life, and getting through the initial grieving process is rarely easy.

If you’ve done it yourself, you’ve probably concluded that death is surprisingly complicated. It can be hard to predict how long the initial pain of loss will last, how deep that wound will be or what methods will best help a person heal.

On the latest episode of Death, Grief & Other Sh*t We Don’t Discuss, host Kyle McMahon explores the triumphs and shortcomings of his own support system in the wake of his mother’s passing.

And as important is people are to overcoming grief, this week’s guest University of Virginia researcher Dr. Jessie Stern explains that sentimental objects, activities and heirlooms can also play a healing role.

“What the data shows is that if you’re aware that the person has passed on and you’re not in denial about that fact, but you’re keeping them alive psychologically and you keep them with you in your heart, that’s actually associated with pretty positive outcomes,” Stern explained. “These are called continuing bonds, it’s the idea that just because the person close to you has died, the relationship doesn’t end. You’re still connected to that person. Calling to mind the positive aspects of the relationship can be a source of security and comfort, even during the grieving process.”

Listen to the full episode via iHeartRadio.

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