Presence in absence. The ambiguous phenomenology of grief

Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences 17 (1):43-63 (2018)
  Copy   BIBTEX


Despite its complex experiential structure, the phenomenon of grief following bereavement has not been a major topic of phenomenological research. The paper investigates its basic structures, elaborating as its core characteristic a conflict between a presentifying and a ‘de-presentifying’ intention: In grief, the subject experiences a fundamental ambiguity between presence and absence of the deceased, between the present and the past, indeed between two worlds he lives in. This phenomenological structure will be analyzed under several aspects: regarding bodily experience, as disruption of a shared intercorporeality; as a loss of the shared world and shared habitualities, leaving the bereaved person with ubiquitous indications of absence and with a contraction of their own self; regarding temporality, as a separation of two strands of time, namely a still ongoing past and an alienated present which become more and more desynchronized; finally, as an “as-if presence” of the deceased which the bereaved continue to feel and sometimes to perceive, leading to a cognitive-affective conflict between two experienced realities. The transforming process of grief is then analyzed as a gradual adjustment to the loss, finally enabling a re-integration of the conflicting realities. This is achieved through an incorporation and identification with the deceased on the one hand, and through various forms of representation on the other hand, in particular by recollection and symbolization.



    Upload a copy of this work     Papers currently archived: 92,369

External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server

Through your library

Similar books and articles

Grief: Putting the Past before Us.Michael R. Kelly - 2016 - Quaestiones Disputatae 7 (1):156-177.
Grief's Rationality, Backward and Forward.Michael Cholbi - 2017 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 94 (2):255-272.
On Grief’s Ambiguous Nature.Sonja Rinofner-Kreidl - 2016 - Quaestiones Disputatae 7 (1):178-207.
Falsely, Sanely, Shallowly.Janet McCracken - 2005 - International Journal of Applied Philosophy 19 (1):139-156.
The Appearance of the Deceased in Dreams of the Bereaved.Kimberly Bateman - 1999 - Dissertation, Pacifica Graduate Institute
The affective 'we': Self-regulation and shared emotions.Joel Krueger - 2015 - In Thomas Szanto & Dermot Moran (eds.), Phenomenology of Sociality: Discovering the ‘We’. New York: Routledge. pp. 263-277.
False emotions.Tony Milligan - 2008 - Philosophy 83 (2):213-230.
The Rationality of Grief.Carolyn Price - 2010 - Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy 53 (1):20-40.


Added to PP

174 (#113,124)

6 months
19 (#139,305)

Historical graph of downloads
How can I increase my downloads?

Author's Profile

Citations of this work

Communing with the Dead Online: Chatbots, Grief, and Continuing Bonds.Joel Krueger & Lucy Osler - 2022 - Journal of Consciousness Studies 29 (9-10):222-252.
Loneliness and the Emotional Experience of Absence.Tom Roberts & Joel Krueger - 2020 - Southern Journal of Philosophy 59 (2):185-204.
Towards a phenomenology of grief: Insights from Merleau‐Ponty.Matthew Ratcliffe - 2020 - European Journal of Philosophy 28 (3):657-669.
Absence experience in grief.Louise Richardson - 2022 - European Journal of Philosophy 31 (1):163-178.

View all 30 citations / Add more citations

References found in this work

Confessions.R. S. Augustine & Pine-Coffin - 2019 - Hackett Publishing Company.
The expression of the emotions in man and animal.Charles Darwin - 1898 - Mineola, New York: Dover Publications.
Totality and infinity: an essay on exteriority.Emmanuel Levinas - 1961 - Hingham, MA: distribution for the U.S. and Canada, Kluwer Boston.

View all 15 references / Add more references